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IRON DM 2014 Tournament


Once A Fool
Welcome, one and all, to the IRON DM 2014 Tournament!

This thread will contain the entries, judgements, commentary, and, of course, trash-talk that give context for the event. Scheduling for the matches will take place elsewhere, so as to keep this thread clear of clutter.

[sblock=The Rules:]The Basics:

The tournament is set up in a single-elimination bracket style, with each match determined based on scheduling availability among the eligible contestants.

Each match will consist of two contestants given a single set of six ingredients with which to construct a brief adventure in any game system or genre. You should waste neither time, nor words, on overly detailed stats, but you should also not assume familiarity with any given system or genre. Explain what you need to explain, and stop there!

These entries will be evaluated on their own merits and those evaluations will then be compared to determine the winner of a match, who will then proceed to the next round.

All matches will be given a time-frame to submit your entries within. Entries that are late may still be accepted, but, seriously, don't do this! While each of the judges have their own set of criteria, you can expect that the later the entry, the more severely it will be penalized in the judgement process, if it is accepted at all!

Seriously, if you haven't finished with an entry in time, post what you've got! Even if you don't win (and, who knows, you might!), you may at least find the judgement enlightening for future IRON DM tournaments!

All entries are expected to make good use of all of the ingredients submitted--that is, they should be creatively applied, well-integrated, and fundamentally necessary to the adventure that they are used in. This is the crux of the tournament, so don't think that maybe (for example) doing a good job with three ingredients will be enough, as long as you can craft a better adventure! I wouldn't count on it, if I were you.

Finally, most of the previous tournaments in the last 12 years have used some optional bonus ingredients in Round 3. This tournament will not make use of such bonus ingredients. Each match will have exactly six ingredients.


All entries are to be submitted with the list of ingredients at the top and are not to be edited, once submitted. Let me repeat that last part: DO NOT EDIT YOUR POST, ONCE YOU HAVE SUBMITTED IT! Check your work before you send it in. Then check it again. The judges will likely not look favorably upon any entry that has been edited and may penalize the entry as they see fit, including, possibly, outright disqualification.

Please do not expect the judges to follow links within your entry. You may include links for others to follow if you choose to do so, but understand that any information that is necessary to the entry must be in the actual entry. Not only will each judge be reading each entry multiple times, but expecting outside sources to carry the load of exposition very much defeats the purpose of the word-limit.

Along those lines--the judges will be reading each entry several times. Please don't make that difficult for us. Don't bore us and don't make our eyes bleed. Please.


As I said before, each entry will be judged on its own merits and then the two competing entries' critiques will be compared for the final judgement. Different judges may have different processes to arrive at such outcomes--for instance, some may use a point-based grading chart, while others may prefer a more abstract analysis.

The judges will endeavor to be Nemmerelesque in our judgements--that is, critical, but also fair and constructive in that criticism. It's tradition. Even so, please understand that not everybody will agree with every decision we make--that's the nature of the game. Traditionally, second-guessing the judges is all part of the game--and that can lead to some undesired outcomes. It can sting sometimes (believe me, I know!), but it is a game. Let's have some fun with it!

That said, those wishing to gain a little insight into the judges' thinking will need to do a little research to do so, but the information is out there. Be warned, though! We may have changed our thinking on some of these things within the last 12 years!

Tournament Structure:

Round 1:

All matches in the first round will have a 24 hour time-limit! That's right--we're going old-school! These matches will not be restricted in length, but, please, don't bore us! Each match will be judged by a single judge determined randomly behind the scenes before the contestants have been determined. Each judge will determine the outcome of at least one of the first round matches. Contestants who win their Round 1 matches will proceed to Round 2.

Round 2:

All matches in the second round will have a 48 hour time-limit. These matches will have a 3000 word limit (not including the title and ingredients list--any descriptions or definitions of ingredients will count against the limit!). A full panel of three judges will compare each match and determine a contestant to advance. The contestants so determined by at least two judges will win their Round 2 matches and will proceed to Round 3.

Round 3:

The third round match will also have a 48 hour time-limit. This match will have a 2000 word limit (not including the title and ingredients list--any descriptions or definitions of ingredients will count against the limit!). As with Round 2, this match will be judged by a panel of three. Each judge will indicate a preferred winner and the contestant so named by at least two judges wins this match and becomes the IRON DM 2014.

Scheduling, Discussing, and Spectating:

The tournament thread will be used to list the ingredients and the judgements for each match, as well as the entries, themselves. Commentary will also be welcome in this thread, but, please, if you are commenting on an entry that has not yet been judged, hide that commentary with sblock tags, [sblock]like this, [/sblock]so that the judges can view the entries with fresh eyes!

If spectators would like to play the home game, please do that in another thread.

One final note:

Once these tournaments have been completed, we try to archive them on these boards for posterity, and so that the adventures can be run or plundered by future Internet generations. We make no claim of ownership over the entries, but we do request that you do not remove your entries once the tournament has concluded. [/sblock]

Our contestants:

1: Wicht (IRON DM 2013, IRON DM FALL 2002)

2: Deuce Traveler (IRON DM 2012)

3: Iron Sky (IRON DM 2009)

4: UselessTriviaMan

5: Imhotepthewise

6: Waylander the Slayer (IRON DM 2011)

7: Gradine

8: MortalPlague

The Matches:
Round 1, Match 2:
Wicht vs. Imhotepthewise. Judgement

Round 1, Match 2: Deuce Traveler vs. Waylander the Slayer. Judgement.

Round 1, Match 3: Gradine vs. UselessTriviaMan. Judgement.

Round 1, Match 4: Iron Sky vs. MortalPlague. Judgement.

[sblock=Round 2]Round 2, Match 1: MortalPlague vs. Gradine. phoamslinger's judgement. Radiating Gnome's judgement. Rune's judgement.

Round 2, Match 2: Wicht vs. Waylander the Slayer. Radiating Gnome's Judgement. phoamslinger's Judgement. Rune's Judgement.[/sblock]

[sblock=Round 3]Championship Round: Wicht vs. MortalPlague. phoamslinger's Judgement. Radiating Gnome's Judgement. Rune's Judgement.[/sblock]

[sblock=And the IRON DM 2014 is...]MortalPlague!

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Once A Fool
Round 1, Match 1: Wicht vs. Imhotepthewise

[MENTION=221]Wicht[/MENTION] and [MENTION=976]Imhotepthewise[/MENTION], you have 24 hours to post your entries to this thread. Please include a list of ingredients at the beginning of the entry and please do not edit your post once it is submitted. Please refrain from reading your opponent's entry until after you have posted your own. You are on your honor to do so.

Your ingredients are:

Dwarven Tragedian

Chicken Dance

Inscrutable Fey

Anarchist's Castle

Devious Machinations

Magic Moth
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(Iron DM 2015; round 1) The Misadventures of The Blood Soaked Banner

The Ingredients
Dwarven Tragedian – Flint Ironedge
Chicken Dance – The Dancing Chickens and the key to opening the vault of the mad witch
Inscrutable Fey – The mysterious nymph bandit The Red Veil
Anarchist's Castle – Home of the mad witch Baba Iszri
Devious Machinations – The plans of Baba Iszri, Flint Ironedge and Sadie Silk, all of which are going to crisscross and convolute the evidence of what is going on
Magic Moth – Moonshadow: minion of The Red Veil

The Misadventures of The Blood Soaked Banner: An Adventure in Three Acts
A fantasy roleplaying experience, intended to be performed by characters of levels 1-3

Introduction: Over the years, the mad witch of chaos, Baba Iszri, has made a habit of collecting both things and people. She has of late become especially interested in the theater and has hatched an elaborate plan to “collect” the great dwarven actor/playwright Flint Ironedge, a thespian best known for both his emotional death scenes, and his preference for tragedies with high body counts. Meanwhile Ironedge and his business partner, Fiern “Hasty” Thorntongue have concocted a devious plan to drum up publicity for the dwarf's newest play: fake death threats and heightened security. They just need some earnest young sell-swords, or otherwise available adventurers, which to hire for bodyguards. At the same time, Ironedge's girlfriend, Sadie Silk, jealous and rage filled because of an affair Ironedge thinks she doesn't know about, has decided that she is going to murder her man.

Adventure Synopsis
The PCs are hired to protect the famous actor, Flint Ironedge, whose newest play “The Blood Soaked Banner,” is purportedly so controversial that the dwarf has been receiving numerous death-threats. Ironedge travels with a troupe of performers containing actors, magicians, musicians and even a collection of dancing chickens. The performers, known as The Troupe of Traveling Theatrical Delights, travel from village to village, providing a variety of acts and skits, the culmination of which is normally one of Ironedge's plays. The PCs are expected, as bodyguards, to travel with the troupe, either joining the acts, or acting as obvious muscle.

As the show hits the road, minor accidents soon become major, and it becomes obvious someone does want to kill the Ironedge (much to his puzzled chagrin). Even as the PCs are still trying to piece together the clues as to who is responsible, they must also work to protect the performers from irate customers and unapproving lawmen.

Things go quickly downhill once the troupe begins a trek across the deep woods of Trehor to reach a village in the middle. The witch Baba Iszri, who has been traveling with the troupe disguised as Mama Roseet: Mistress of the Whirling Fowl (ie. the dancing chickens), sets her own plan in motion. The troupe is waylaid by the minions of the Red Veil, a mysterious nymph bandit, who, in the commotion, kidnaps the dwarf through the use of her magical giant-moth, Moonshadow, a unique being capable of inducing sleep, and of diminishing its victims. Moonshadow flies the comatose dwarf to the lair of The Red Veil. The Red Veil subsequently trades Ironedge to Baba Iszri in exchange for seven casks of exotic wines, and the return of one of her paramours, a handsome man kidnapped some years earlier by the witch. The witch hopes by such an arrangement to never be connected personally with the kidnapping.

Following the attack upon the traveling show, the PCs realize that Ironedge has been kidnapped by the nymph and that Mama Roseet is missing. Meanwhile, Sadie Silk, convinced the dwarf has arranged all this so as to spend time with “another strumpet,” becomes more determined than ever to kill him and forces her companionship upon the PCs. The PCs, either through brawn or guile, must infiltrate the lair of the Red Veil and discover the actual whereabouts of the dwarf. This accomplished, they must then head even deeper into the forest and find the strange castle home of Baba Iszri.

The castle itself is filled with nonsensical traps, strange rooms, goblin warriors and general chaos. Braving such obstacles, the PCs discover that the dwarf is hidden in a locked vault in the basement dungeon. The key to opening this vault is is to be found in the movements of the strange dance of Mama Roseet's chickens. If the PCs make it this far, the witch strikes up a deal with the PCs that amuses her: if they can open the vault door by correctly performing the dance, she will allow them to take the dwarf away with them. However, if the PCs have not yet deduced that Sadie Silk is the one who has been trying to kill the dwarf, once he is free, she tries again to murder him at the first possible opportunity.

The PCs can be brought into this adventure in one of two ways. The easiest is for them simply to see the opportunity for work and decide to take it. Otherwise, the PCs can be encouraged to protect the dwarf by one or more of their teachers, patrons or the like (heads of the church, master wizards, swordmasters) who just happen to be huge fans of Ironedge's plays.

The Cast of Characters
Baba Iszri: The mad witch of chaos who, when she is not formenting rebellion and troubling the forces of law and order, makes a hobby of collecting interesting things and people
Flint Ironedge: The stage name of Kazakor Dakazaakaram, a dwarf actor and playwright who specializes in writing tragic death scenes and then enacting them
Fiern “Hasty” Thorntongue: Manager of the Troupe of Traveling Theatrical Delights, and business partner of Flint Ironedge. Fiern is given to wild business schemes, more than half of which seem to inexplicably pay off.
Sadie Silk: Flint's insanely jealous half-elf girlfriend, who hides murderous intent behind a fixed smile. Also an actress and expert knife thrower.
Mama Roseet: An eccentric, grandmotherly druid with a magical tiara which allows her to make chickens dance. Actually Baba Iszri in disguise.
The Red Veil: A Nymph Bandit who wears a red veil at all times to hide her face. Baba Iszri has one of her favorite men and she's willing to make a trade.
Moonshadow: A giant moth able to put its victims to sleep and shrink them down to size. A pet of the Red Veil.
Plus an assortment of actors, singers, musicians, sword swallowers, jugglers, acrobats, dancing chickens, rowdy theater goers, town constables, bandits and goblin henchmen...

The Adventure In Three Acts...
Act 1: The Play's the Thing In which the PCs, after being shown fierce and threatening missives promising harm upon the renown Flint Ironedge, are hired to protect the same. They must join the Troupe of Traveling Theatrical Delights, either as performers, or as obvious muscle. It is at this time they come to know their fellow actors and discover that someone does seem to actually be trying to kill Flint. Poisoned fruits, falling sandbags, and the like plague the company as they travel from town to town.

Act II: Into the Woods In which the Troupe of Traveling Theatrical Delights traverses half the length of the Trehor woods before being attacked by minions of the mysterious Red Veil. In the ensuing fracas, the moth Moonshadow kidnaps Flint Ironedge, flying him to the tree-fort of the scarlet clad nymph. The Adventures, pursuing, must enter the fort and find a way to persuade the Red Veil to tell them where their client is.

Acts III: In the Vaults of the Mad Witch In which the PCs, accompanied by murder-minded Sadie Silk, enter into the crazed castle of Baba Iszri. To free the dwarf they must conquer the trap laden, goblin invested, mind warping halls of the witch and, at the end, do a chicken dance. Once freed from the witch, Ironedge must still be saved from the wrath of his scorned lover. Will love win the day, or will it all end in bloody death?





Dwarven Tragedian

Chicken Dance

Inscrutable Fey

Anarchist's Castle

Devious Machinations

Magic Moth

Title: Get Out Of Here And Take Your Village With You.

This is not your Momma’s sword swinging adventure.

This is a medium level adventure, best played with an adventuring group that has more skill characters than combat characters.

The adventure begins in a human/humanoid town near the smaller village of Marois. They are between adventures. They meet another adventuring group who relate their tale of woe, where they failed to enter and loot the Redoubt of Red Rangel near the village of Marois. The defeated party is disheveled and nursing wounds, but surprisingly not big ones. They seem to be under weaponed for an experienced adventuring group. They claim to have seen the redoubt, but were prevented from entering it by swift attacks by unseen foes in the forest. They suggest the PC’s party meet them in Marois where they can join together in an assault on the redoubt. When questioned about the redoubt, these are the pat answers. They learned of the redoubt from an old man from another town down river. The old man said it was abandoned and contained many treasures hidden by him and his fellow adventurers. The old man was dying and unable to go get the treasure. The redoubt is a low structure with an attached tower decorated with gold and silver and gemstones, but that is the least of the treasures, more than that awaits within. The attacks were small projectiles and unseen small stabs and blunt strikes. They initially retreated to the small village of Marois, but found no help there. Hence, they’ve fallen back to here where they’ve been healing up.

It is false they learned of the redoubt from an old man. They were led there by Heglat and his nephew.

It is true they saw the redoubt, decorated as they described.

It is true they were attacked.

It is false they retreated to Marois; they have actually never been there.

Background On Marois:

Just a few years ago, the forest was relatively free of humans and humanoids. The fey and animals lived fairly unmolested around a peaceful hidden hollow with a beautiful spring fed pond, providing a source for a stream that led down to the main river where human and humanoid communities lived.

Human and humanoid travelers through the forest learned of the pond by paddling small boats up the stream to it and used the available water supply to support themselves as they hunted, trapped, and fished in the area. Their camps were temporary, so the fey took little notice of them unless they felt the transients passed too near their homes. The transients were pretty much ignorant of the fey except for some unexplained belongings that were found missing or subjected to minor vandalism.

Then came Dunstan the dwarf. He was a hapless fellow who was not looked onto kindly by his kind for his ineptness and lack of talent. He had a long history of failure as a miner, weaponsmith, gemcutter, and soldier. He couldn’t find a dwarven craft or skill he was proficient in. His impatience and predilection for snap decisions usually made him the author of his own failures. He had a long list of mishaps, such as being trapped in a collapsed mineshaft that wasn’t adequately shored up, burns from improperly use of the forge, a missing finger from a gem cutting accident, and so on.

Dunstan had followed the stream to its source with belongings and supplies for a long term stay and a nice shiny wood axe in hand with the intent of trying to become rich logging the beautiful trees that surrounded the pond. Unfortunately for him, one of the first trees he felled fell on a lair of a family of pixies, killing all but two of them. One younger pixie suffered a grievous head wound, and the other older pixie suffered a severe broken heart.

The older pixie had to go find someone to heal his young nephew, so he had to leave the area and Dunstan remained ignorantly unpunished. In the ruins of the pixies’ lair, Dunstan found the pixies’ treasure. He did not realize the crushed lair was a recently occupied home, as the bodies were gone and the older pixie was unable to take the bulk of the treasure with him to succor his nephew.

Dunstan went to a nearby town to contract someone to come get his wood. The small fortune he flashed around attracted interest. He did not find anyone to haul his wood back, but he returned to the pond area with a whole bunch of new company who encamped around him and began scouring the area around the pond for more treasure. After a few weeks of coming up with nothing, most returned to town. One family, the Marois, decided to stay and make a permanent home on the edge of the pond with Dunstan as their neighbor.

Marois, named for the first family, grew into a small trading post, supplying hunters and trappers and passing adventurers. Real buildings were built, streets cleared, and trade thrived. They never found the need to build a palisade for defense.

By the time the pixies returned, a small village occupied their corner of the forest. This angered the older pixie to the point of rage. He vowed revenge on Dunstan and promised to drive the squatters from his forest. His name is Heglat.

His young nephew Hogmin is not stable. His brain is not right after being injured when Dunstan’s tree fell on his lair. He does not always act as Heglat would want him to.

Dunstan has given up the dream of getting rich on cut wood and bought some chickens, intending to sell the eggs they laid. He has a small house with an attached henhouse.

The pixies have used their powers to convince Dunstan the dwarf that his chickens can speak. The “chickens” ask for random silly things, promising, if fulfilled, they will lay more eggs.

The “chickens” have convinced the dwarf to leave their lost feathers as a carpet covering the floor of the henhouse.

The “chickens” have convinced the dwarf to place a large pot of honey in the henhouse over a small brazier to create a pleasant scent within.

The “chickens” have convinced the dwarf that he must enter the henhouse only in his underdrawers.

What The Villagers Of Marois Don’t Know:

The villagers have no idea Heglat or his nephew are lurking around.

The villagers have no knowledge of the redoubt or Red Rangel.

About The Redoubt Of Red Rangel:

The Redoubt of Red Rangel is an impressive structure. In the effort to be left alone, Red has labored many years to build a walled enclosure of woven plants and branches packed with mud and rock to keep all but the smaller flying and climbing creatures out. Sharpened sticks line the tops of the walls and poke out from the exterior. In one corner of the wall, the plants and branches have been woven into a tall tower where Red can overlook the area for trespassers. Red is a grizzled redcap, complete with the iron shoes and a tunic that has “question authority” embroidered in sylvan on it.

About Hogmin:

Hogmin is a pixie who acts randomly and seemingly recklessly to the point of self-endangerment. He is not stable, and is prone to do unusual things to entertain himself on a whim. He is Heglat’s nephew, and doesn’t always act as Heglat would want him to. He rarely speaks as himself, but is fond of mimicking others’ voices, using animal sounds, and has a talent with ventriloquism. His head is oddly shaped from the wounds he received from the crushed lair. His eyes are not set evenly, anymore.

About The Plan Of Heglat:

Heglat is an older pixie whose quest for revenge has turned him evil. He has the ability to create multiple illusions on top of normal pixie powers.

Heglat knows that if the village is to be abandoned permanently, it must be something more threatening than a pair of pixies and a crazed redcap. He wants to ensure that no one comes back ever.

Heglat wants personal revenge on the hapless Dunstan for the loss of his family and the damage done to Hogmin.

Heglat has taken great pains to cover his return to the area, and to not appear as his natural pixie self to the squatters and their clientele. He and Hogmin use their invisiblity and polymorph abilities to get around unnoticed.

Heglat and Hogmin used the shape of unusual moths to lead the blackmailed party off the main trail to the vicinity of the redoubt.

Heglat is blackmailing the first adventuring group to recruit more humans/humanoids to come and aid in the abandonment of Marois. He needs a lot of them to ensure as many fights go on and involve the villagers, and to cover any mischief he causes around that fight.

Heglat has “befriended” Red Rangel, the redcap, to aid him. He feeds Red’s paranoia, xenophobia, and distaste of authority to his own benefit. Heglat’s most inflammatory statement is that the Marois family has “brought law and order” to the forest. Red is so defiant and disregarding of authority, his folk drove him out after he quarreled with the redcap tribe elders. “No one tells ME what to do!”. The last straw was when Red set fire to the elders’ lodge.

Heglat and Red allowed the blackmailed party to see the exterior of the redoubt, but enhanced it with illusion to make it appear decorated with gold and silver wire and twinkling gemstones.

Heglat has imprisoned one of the blackmailed party in the redoubt in a wicker cage and has most their magic items held there as ransom as well. The prisoner is treated with pixie sleeping poison and will be of no help until she is freed and the poison wears off or is neutralized.

Heglat and Hogmin continue to polymorph into moths as they need to so they can infiltrate the village of Marois and spy on others. They choose commonly encountered moths for their area, to blend into the existing population.

About The Plan Of Hogmin:

Hogmin is building a trap for Dunstan. Heglat has not yet put the pieces together, so he is unaware what can happen. Heglat only wants Hogmin to annoy and distract Dunstan. Hogmin intends to cover Dunstan with hot honey and chicken feathers. His plan has taken several visits to bring to possible fruition.

How the Adventure Will Go Forward, Based On The PC’s Choices:

The PC’s party has a number of directions to go here. They can simply go to Marois ahead of the blackmailed party and wait for them quietly. The village is used to transients, so they will raise little notice. They can wait out in the forest for the blackmailed party to pass by and follow them to Marois. The blackmailed party will make their way to Marois, but will seem uncertain about the path to get there. There will be several stops for looking around and discussing the trip. Occasionally, forest creatures will be seen from the trail, such as squirrels, clouds of moths, an occasional bee, and small birds. Heglat and Hogmin will be trailing them as moths. If the blackmailed group appears lost, the moths will fly down the center of the path to point the way.

Heglat intends to use the presence of the combined party in the village to cause unrest that culminates in a big fight that he hopes will kill most of the squatters. He will cause unrest between everyone using Red and Hogmin.

With both parties in the village, and no one else the wiser, the parties will agree to meet at dawn to head towards the redoubt. The night before, Heglat, Hogmin, and Red will cause mayhem in the village painting comments uncomplimentary to the neighbors on the buildings, releasing horses from their hobbles, livestock from their pens, imitating crying babies and barking dogs (along with this happening naturally, anyway). The idea is to make everyone tired and crabby and irritable to one another.

In the morning, Hogmin will be hidden invisibly on the blackmailed party’s leader’s back as the two parties meet. Using ventriloquism, he will say something like, ‘now we have you where we want you, prepared to die!’, which the leader partially expects, anyway. The blackmailed party knows they are screwed anyway, and will defend themselves as best they can. Red will move around the village lighting fires and rereleasing stock to gum up the fighting areas. Heglat will use illusions to best effect to cause general mayhem. Invisible, Heglat will also call out, drawing attention to the graffiti and inciting others to fight. “The newcomers are burning the village!” “kill them all!”.

Hogmin will use this opportunity to touch off his plan for Dunstan, zipping off invisibly to raise hell in the henhouse, which will cause Dunstan to run in and trip Hogmin’s trapped honey pot, covering him with hot honey, rolling on the feather covered floor. The pain should cause Dunstan to run out of the henhouse and jump and dance about, unrecognizable to anyone under the feathers. Hogmin with shout, “don’t be fooled by the disguise!”. Hogmin will then shadow fights, calling out uncomplimentary statements to spur the fights on.

The whirling and rolling figure of Dunstan will cause another moving obstacle on the battlefield, He runs the risk of running into someone’s weapon strike, accidently or on purpose. Heglat will not do anything to him until the battle is over, hoping someone else takes him out.

If the PC party gets wind of the plot, convices the blackmailed party to tell all, or figures it out any other way, they can either go home, set up an ambush for Heglat, or assault the redoubt with the blackmailed party and any of the villagers they can convince to come along.

If they approach the redoubt, it will be much plainer than the blackmailed party saw it last. There will be no gold, silver, and gemstones. There will be a spar on the top of the tower with an occupied wicker cage hanging from it.

Heglat will call out and say that the prisoner will die unless the mob returns to the village, destroy the buildings, and leave with every living soul, man and beast.

Heglat will whip up Red by shouting “Here comes law and order to your doorstep!” “You’ll have to start bending your knee to these folks, Red!”

If the players attack anyway, they will have a bonny fight on their hands with two pixies and an enraged redcap. The fey will be on their home ground, with magical powers to be used at best effect. They may be able to call up some additional allies from the forest. If faced with death, the fey will escape or surrender, for now.

The redoubt will have the magical items of the blackmailed group, the prisoner, and Red Rangel’s personal treasure. The redoubt is well made and reasonably clean. There is protection from the weather within and it would be fairly easy to modify it for larger creatures to occupy.

If you’re truly a RBDM, you could also make the prisoner in the cage a permanent image. The real prisoner could be stashed somewhere else for the escaping pixies and redcap to use as a bargaining chip.

Thus Endeth The Adventure.

Ingredients Used:

Dwarven Tragedian – Dunstan, the dwarven chicken farmer of Marois, who has a long list of bad decisions that has lead him to his current state of unhappiness.

Chicken Dance – The dwarven chicken farmer is covered in chicken feathers and hot honey by the pixie Hogmin. This causes him to jump around and shake as he tries to get the hot honey off of himself.

Inscrutable Fey – Hogmin, a pixie who acts randomly and seemingly recklessly to the point of self-endangerment.

Anarchist's Castle – Red Rangel’s compound in the forest. Heglat’s illusion powers made it appear grand and treasure filled from the outside.

Devious Machinations – Major, the plan of Heglat to cause the abandonment of Marois. Minor, the plan of Hogmin to “tar” and feather Dunstan.

Magic Moth – Heglat and Hogmin – The pixies polymorph into moths so they can infiltrate the village of Marois and spy on others.

The End.


Once A Fool
Round 1, Match 2 Judgement: Wicht vs. Imhotepthewise

Okay. Let's start the tournament off with a couple of tough ingredients and see what happens.

One of these entries was a whole lot more polished than the other, but was it a better adventure? And which made better use of those aforementioned ingredients?

We'll start there. First, the Dwarven Tragedian. Wicht's character in The Misadventures of the Blood Soaked Banner is certainly interesting, a foolish actor of tragedies setting himself up to play one out in real life. The premise this presents is central to the adventure and quite intriguing. We will revisit it later.

Imhotepthewise stretches the definition a little further in Get Out Of Here And Take Your Village With You. Therein, the dwarf, Dunstan, is someone who continually plays out his own tragic outcomes, again, because of foolishness. This is not a bad interpretation. What is bad is that most of that stuff happens within a wall of backstory. The one that matters, though, really matters; it creates the movement of the adventure and the antagonists that move it. It's just too bad that there isn't really any way for the players to find that out (short of Heglat monologuing).

How about the Chicken Dance? Get Out stretches the ingredient a little thin, but the role it plays in the adventure is both entertaining and potentially pivotal--a wild card in an already chaotic situation. Not only that, it represents an interesting decision-point for the players. Just how are they going to react to this new development? How will they even interpret it?

Misadventures went for the Baba Yaga connection, going all out to let the allusion fill in details of his witch for us, even going so far as to name her Baba Iszri. This is cleverly efficient. The actual chicken dance fits the character, fits the ingredient, and is quite flavorful. It's use in the adventure has some problems, however. It is presented as the sole means of moving the adventure to its final conflict. But what group of players is going to think to memorize the moves of some dancing chickens? And if they don't, does it get resolved with a die roll? If so, what's the point of including it?

Since one of the definitions of "fey" is "fated to die," I was somewhat surprised not to see that tied in with the strong themes of tragedy in either entry. Oh well.

Instead, Misadventures' use of Inscrutable Fey is inscrutable to me. The nymph has a motive and it isn't hard to figure out what it is. Clearly, Baba Iszri understands it, since she uses it to make a deal. Now, if Baba had been presented as a hag, she actually would fit pretty well. Opportunity missed.

Get Out presents a character that manages to have pathos, while completely neglecting to explore his motivations. And, somehow, that works.

Neither entry used the Anarchist's Castle particularly well. In Get Out, it fits in well enough, but Red really didn't need to be an anarchist for the adventure to play out exactly the same way. He could have had any number of other motivations and still acted the same way.

In Misadventures, the castle seemed like it could have been interesting, but there wasn't anything close to enough information to run it! Add to that the problem that Baba may as well not been an anarchist for all it mattered to the adventure (and, indeed, could have better served as the inscrutable fey, if only she wasn't).

But, Magic Moth was also used poorly in both entries. Both entries make me wonder, "Why moths?" The only answer I can come up with is, "Why not?" Ugh.

And then there were Devious Machinations. I'm discussing this ingredient last because of how central it is for each entry. First, though, I want to define "devious." It has come to have connotations of wickedness and, perhaps, devilry. What it actually means, however, is a circuitous or indirect course (of, for example, actions).

Get Out presents a supremely convoluted scheme from the primary antagonist, Heglat, which is further complicated by Hogmin's also fairly devious scheme. These lead to the village conflict, a scenario that just looks like it would be an insanely chaotic and incredibly fun mess to play.

Misadventures runs on the only slightly less devious machinations of Baba Iszri. Further, I can't help but but see some devious machinations in the overall design of the adventure; it seems fairly linear, but there are so many moving parts (the dwarf, the partner, the girlfriend, the witch) that it's really hard to see it all playing out the same way every time.

So, we're pretty close on ingredients. Now, let's get to the adventures, themselves. One huge problem with Get Out was the vast amount of background information, very little of it information that the PCs will find out. This is, frankly (and, perhaps, appropriately), tragic, because there's a pretty good adventure (and a great scenario) buried in there. Added to that is the looseness of the rules (whichever rules they may be). Normally this wouldn't be too much of an issue, but one is left wondering just how to play these creatures with unspecified extra abilities, especially in the final expected encounter, as the PCs assault the redoubt.

I'm also a little disappointed that the piece goes to great lengths to set up a truly tragic situation, only to lead to a situation that probably seems not at all tragic to the PCs, because they probably won't find out what makes it so! That, to me, is a tragedy.

[sblock]In contrast, Misadventures does a far better job of incorporating the PCs into the tragedy as it unfolds and even presents a reasonable chance for it to all end in tears. And, while that's thematically satisfying, it also represents the starkest difference between the two entries: Wicht's incorporates the PCs right from the start, while Imhotepthewise presents an adventure that is half over before the PCs get involved.

Imhotep, you've got good ideas and a clear vision of story. But "Show, don't tell" applies just as much to adventure-writing as it does to other mediums. If you don't front-load the story, you can give the PCs a chance to discover it on their own. Even better, you give them the opportunity to write their own story around it.

I expect to see you compete again, and do well. You're just too creative to do poorly, once you've honed your style. Until then, though...

Wicht advances to Round 2. [/sblock]


Once A Fool
So, [MENTION=221]Wicht[/MENTION] and [MENTION=976]Imhotepthewise[/MENTION], it would be enlightening to know how you both developed your entries out of a fairly quirky set of ingredients. Care to elaborate?


Reading through the ingredients, it was Chicken Dance which first jumped out at me I think. It obviously implied a more light-hearted sort of adventure. So I asked myself, what would Willie Walsh do... Dwarven Tragedian was the next ingredient my brain latched onto... Shakespeare came to mind, as well as Pratchet's Weird Sisters, with its fantasy take on a Shakespeare play... Perhaps a troupe of performers doing plays and vaudeville acts. Maybe one of the acts should be a group of dancing chickens. Perhaps controlled by magical headgear.

Sleeping on it, my mind wrapped itself around the idea of a Dwarf actor who needed protection from fake death threats. Of course, for it to be an adventure, the Dwarf would have to actually be in some sort of trouble. Devious Machinations implied a convoluted series of events which hid the actual danger. A kidnapping, maybe some sort of person in the troupe who wants the dwarf dead and sees the fake death threats as a way to hide their own plan.

When I sat down to write it, I started with characters and shaped the events around the characters. Reading the rules I opted to not flesh it out as much as I might have (the rules do say that brief is better than long), so I did not detail every actual murder attempt nor the actual contents of the room. I knew from the outset that Anarchist was going to be the weak link because I did not create the character from there, but instead worked it in.

The Inscrutable Fey could have been more stressed by stressing that she never, ever shows her face, but always, always wears the veil in every situation, thus making her face literally inscrutable. The Magic Moth suggested to me the moths of Desna in Golarion, but I did not do as much with it as I might have. I thought having a moth that shrunk people and put them to sleep might be funny though (for the DM).

The whole adventure is meant to be slightly lighthearted, with comedy coming from the situations and the characters but with very real consequences possible.

The Chicken Dance and the vault came from the Vin Diesel "The Pacifier" movie, where the secret vault needed a kids dance to understand how to bypass the traps. If I was going to actually write up the adventure, I would make the moves of the chickens one of those things that gets stressed in repeated but simple song at each performance. Also maybe get events to talk one of the characters into performing with the chickens.

When I was done with the simple writeup, I thought I had the makings of an actual fun sort of adventure with lots of possibilities for further development and much actual roleplaying. The mystery in Act 1 would get written up in a lot more details, with various events and mishaps. I had this image of one scene where poisoned fruits left for the dwarf got eaten... by one of the chickens a'la Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark's "bad dates" scene with the monkey.


Once A Fool
When I sat down to write it, I started with characters and shaped the events around the characters. Reading the rules I opted to not flesh it out as much as I might have (the rules do say that brief is better than long), so I did not detail every actual murder attempt nor the actual contents of the room.

Of course, there is a difference between glossing over the details of minor events during the build-up of an adventure and saying "make sure to put some mind-bending encounters in that otherwise empty dungeon the characters will definitely go into." The latter is simply not that helpful if you actually intend for someone to run it. As for brevity, you included a synopsis and then, essentially, repeated it at the end. Granted, it read well, but if space was a concern, that strikes me as an odd decision.

The whole adventure is meant to be slightly lighthearted, with comedy coming from the situations and the characters but with very real consequences possible.

I think that came through pretty well.


Of course, there is a difference between glossing over the details of minor events during the build-up of an adventure and saying "make sure to put some mind-bending encounters in that otherwise empty dungeon the characters will definitely go into." The latter is simply not that helpful if you actually intend for someone to run it. As for brevity, you included a synopsis and then, essentially, repeated it at the end. Granted, it read well, but if space was a concern, that strikes me as an odd decision.

Yeah, I'm not quibbling with the assessment. I was just trying to showcase the thinking that kept me from fleshing out more. To be honest, because of my tendency to write things as I intend to have them finished, I wasn't quite sure how to summarize potential events without producing a fully fledged 15k module. I think, after 24 hours or so of more thought, that I could have probably bulleted individual events in the second half of the manuscript with just enough detail to give a flow of ideas.

So that Act 1 would read something like

Act 1: The Play's the Thing In which the PCs, after being shown fierce and threatening missives promising harm upon the renown Flint Ironedge, are hired to protect the same.
  • The PCs join the Troupe of Traveling Theatrical Delights, either as performers, or as obvious muscle.
  • Introductions are made all around and PCs are given many invites to join particular acts.
  • At the first performance, a falling sandbag narrowly misses Ironedge as he performs a death scene. The pathos is ruined. The rope appears to have been cut by a sharp blade.
  • A wagon wheel comes off of Flint's private wagon. Sadie Silk was, thankfully, travelling in a different wagon at the time. The dwarf is banged up. There are signs of sabotage
  • Poisoned fruits left for Ironedge results in a dead chicken. Madam insists that one of the PCs fill in for her missing star until a replacement is purchased.
  • etc.

Also, right after posting, it struck me that it should have been the Troupe of a Thousand Traveling Theatrical Delights.



One of these entries was a whole lot more polished than the other

I thought I might also add a word or two about polishing, or the appearance thereof... (take it for what it is worth oh fellow contestants...)

I mentioned already that I tend to write things as I intend to have them finished and part of this is paying attention to formatting. Whether I am writing for my own pleasure*, for publication, or for a competition like this, I always format as professionally as I can as I go along, bolding, italicizing, making sure to break up paragraphs. And when I edit, one of the things I mainly look for, besides obvious grammar mistakes and how well does it read, is whether or not the format is pleasing to the eye...

I suspect that as far as time spent polishing, Imhotepthewise may have spent more time than I did. Though I brainstormed throughout a night and half a day, when I actually started typing it was 4 pm EST, and I sent it in a little less than two hours later. My actual time spent polishing was about 20 minutes in length, but easily half of that was going through and making sure to double check presentation and appearance. I don't know how others judge manuscripts or entries, but I know that for myself, a manuscript formatted out neatly so that it is easy to read makes a much better favorable first impression. This is not to downplay the importance of content, but in a tight decision, that little extra bit of good will might tip the scales, you never know...

*Even when running my own stuff, I like to have it laid out as neatly as possible for ease of use and maybe because I'm just a little bit obsessively compulsed that way, though I wouldn't term it a disorder. :)

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