IRON DM 2015 Tournament

Rune

Once A Fool
And so it begins. Welcome, one and all, to the 2015 IRON DM Tournament. Eight contestants enter the arena. One emerges as IRON DM 2015.

To keep down the clutter, all scheduling will take place in the scheduling thread. Ingredients, entries, and judgements will all be posted in this thread. As usual, commentary and trash-talk also should be posted in this thread (for posterity).

[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 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 judge has historically had 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. 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, matches have traditionally (but not always!) had exactly six ingredients. This will not be the case in this tournament. The list of required ingredients will get longer as the rounds progress!

Formatting:

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. I will not look favorably upon any entry that has been edited and may penalize the entry as I see fit, including, possibly, outright disqualification. Part of the challenge of IRON DM is in the development and use of discipline in editing and time-management.

Please do not expect me 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 I 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--I reiterate: I will be reading each entry multiple times. Please don't make that difficult for me. Don't bore me and don't make my eyes bleed. Please.

Judgement:

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 have traditionally had 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.

I will endeavor to be Nemmerelesque in my judgements--critical, but also fair and constructive in that criticism. It's tradition. Even so, please understand that not everybody will agree with every decision that I make--that's the nature of the game. Traditionally, second-guessing the judge 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 judge's thinking will need to do a little research to do so, but the information is out there. Be warned, though! I may have changed my thinking on some of these things within the last 13 years!

Tournament Structure:

Round 1:


All matches in the first round will have a 24 hour time-limit! All matches in the first round will have six ingredients, all of which are to be used in each entry. Entries in these matches will have a 750 word limit (not including the title and ingredients list--any descriptions or definitions of ingredients will count against the limit!). That may not seem like a lot, but I assure you, it's even less than you think! 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 each have seven ingredients, all of which are to be used in each entry. Entries in these matches will have a 1500 word limit (not including the title and ingredients list--any descriptions or definitions of ingredients will count against the limit!). Contestants who win their Round 1 matches will proceed to Round 2.

Round 3:

The third round match will also have a 48 hour time-limit. This match will use eight ingredients, all of which are to be used in each entry. Entries in 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!). The contestant who wins this match will become the IRON DM 2015!

Scheduling, Discussing, and Spectating:

As previously mentioned, the scheduling thread will be used for scheduling the matches.

This 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 I 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: MortalPlague (IRON DM 2014)

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

3: Gradine

4: Deuce Traveler (IRON DM 2012)

5: Imhotepthewise

6: Iron Sky (IRON DM 2009)

7: LucasC

8: Wik​

Our Alternates:

1: PnPgamer

2: Leopold​

Good luck, y'all.


Round 1

Match 1: MortalPlague vs. Wicht. Judgement.

Match 2: Iron Sky vs. Imhotepthewise. Judgement.

Match 3: Gradine vs. Wik. Judgement.

Match 4: Deuce Traveler vs. LucasC. Judgement.

[sblock=Round 2:]Match 1: Wicht vs. Deuce Traveler. Judgement.

Match 2: Iron Sky vs. Gradine. Judgement. [/sblock]

[sblock=Championship Round]Iron Sky vs. Deuce Traveler. Judgement. [/sblock]
 
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Rune

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

[MENTION=62721]MortalPlague[/MENTION] and [MENTION=221]Wicht[/MENTION], you have 24 hours to post your entries to this thread. Please limit your entry to a title, a list of the ingredients used and 750 additional words. Please include your 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:

Riots

Happy Chance

Civilized Orcs

Fickle Fate

Clueless Investigator

Wondrous Conversion
 

Wicht

Hero
Iron DM Round 1: A Run of Luck

A Run of Luck
RiotsWhat happens when one or two people are far too lucky in a gambling tournament
Happy ChanceThe demigod Chance, drawn to The Wondrous Conversion by the Grand Tusk Tournament
Civilized OrcsThe Morgk Brothers, owners of the Wondrous Conversion
Fickle FateA demigod, Luckbringer, trying to make Chance jealous, and causing a riot in the process
Clueless InvestigatorTarson Keeneye, a house detective in the Wondrous Conversion, who falsely accuses the PCs of cheating and sets of a riot
Wondrous Conversion – The transmutation of the Grand Tusk trophy into solid gold by Chance

A run of luck is a fantasy d20 mini-adventure.

The Scene:
The Wondrous Conversion is a gambling den owned by two orc brothers: Orthan and Lingstom Morgk. It is a well known establishment, which, every year, hosts the Grand Tusk Tournament. The winner of the tournament gets a hefty grand prize and a Grand Tusk trophy. The tournament has gotten steadily bigger over the years, and this year, its tenth year, it is fated to get slightly out of hand.
  • The Wondrous Conversion features a fountain that converts water to wine; drinks from the fountain are free and drunkenness is common among the spectators and some of the gamblers.
  • The tournament features a different kind of game of chance each round, and is double elimination, so that the number of contestants gets gradually smaller as the night goes on.
  • Between rounds, the brothers have hired various forms of entertainment to keep things lively.

The Cast:
The Morgk Brothers: These two orcs were converted at a young age away from the evil ways of their race and have striven to learn the ways of civilization. They speak with proper grammar, enunciate their words carefully, bathe regularly, and always dress fashionably. Lingstom, however, still occasionally "practices" with a great-ax on wooden dummies in the basement as an outlet for his anger.

Chance: Chance is a demigod, natually fond of gambling. Disguised as a mortal, he plans on entering the tournament, lose at the last moment, and turn the trophy to gold. He has an eye for pretty ladies, and flirts outrageously throughout the proceedings with any he sees.

Luckbringer: A female demigod madly in love with Chance. She plans on attaching herself to one of the tournament competitors so as to make Chance jealous. She will grant that character great luck, right up until the last round of the tournament.

Tarson Keeneye: A house detective at The Wondrous Conversion. He has no idea that the gods are messing with the dice during the tournament, but he knows when a lucky streak is too good to be true.

The Kimboni Triblets: Acrobats, but also thieves and pickpockets, hired to entertain during the tournament.

And Hundreds More!: There are a two hundred gamblers and several hundred more spectators at the tournament.

The Events
  • One or more of the PCs are invited to enter the prestigious Grand Tusk Tournament at The Wondrous Conversion.
  • Luckbringer attaches herself to one of the PCs as a mascot (preferably the most handsome male), and grants that PC incredible luck. For every d20 roll, they get to roll two d20s and take the higher roll with an additional +4 divine bonus.
  • Chance subtly manipulates games he is in so that he always manages to advance.
  • One of the entertainments features dangerous animals, such as tigers, lions, and bears.
  • The Kimboni Triplets, when not performing, lift money and valuables from unsuspecting guests.
  • As the last round begins, and the contest is down to the last four entries, one of which is the lucky PC, and another of which is Chance, several things happen at once: Tarson Keeneye, who has been watching the PC all night, makes a public accusation of cheating on the part of the PC. Chance turns the trophy into solid gold. Someone realizes all their money has been lifted from their pouch and cries out “Thief!,” after which several others realize they too are missing money. Luckbringer finally leaves the PC and makes a move on Chance, confessing her love for him. Chance realizes that Luckbringer is the one for him, and they both leave the tournament. Pandemonium erupts.

The Climax
As accusations begin to fly, as people realize they have been robbed, as there is now a priceless trophy sitting in the middle of everything, and as many of the people on the scene are heavily intoxicated, a full scale riot erupts in the Wondrous Conversion. Wild animals are set loose. Fists and chairs fly. The Kimboni Triplets try to steal the trophy. Lingstom, to his brother's horror, begins using a great-ax on rampaging guests who are destroying their property. And to make matters worse, the PC who had all the good luck now has bad-luck for 24 hours (roll twice, take lowest with -4 divine bonus). The PCs, stuck in the middle, will have to defend themselves, and decide how best to react to the chaos around them.
 

MortalPlague

Adventurer
[sblock=The Elements]
Riots - After the lockdown, the patrons will riot if left to their own devices (or helped along by the PCs).
Happy Chance - The casino where the heist takes place.
Civilized Orcs - The retired orc warband of Harrot the Crusher who now run a casino.
Fickle Fate - A statue of a nymph which changes hands often and may, in fact, be cursed. The PCs may also lose the statue during the course of the adventure.
Clueless Investigator - Grodin Bonefang really has no way to piece together the details of the heist, but he will try his best regardless.
Wondrous Conversion - The changing of the statue via the magic of the ring.
[/sblock]


Taking Fate


The PCs are hired to retrieve a beautiful statue of a nymph called Fate. They say an owner rarely possesses the statue for long before it is stolen or lost. Cursed? Or self-fulfilling prophecy?

The statue is currently owned by Harrot the Crusher, an orc warchief who settled down, bullied the local lord into giving him some land, and built the Happy Chance Casino. The time has come for the statue to leave Harrot's care.

The PCs have been given a magic ring that affects objects, transforming them into liquid for one hour. Objects will shrink to a quarter their size and lose all shape, though their transformation takes a minute to complete. The ring has three charges.


The Casino

The Happy Chance Casino is posh and fancy. It is comfortable, with upholstered chairs, grand fireplaces, and music. Everything about the place is slightly off, as if designed by hands that only saw civilization from afar, and never dwelt in it. The staff, all retired orc warriors, are friendly and polite. The servers will proudly proclaim that their dishes come with parsley on the side, and their drinks are served in tall glasses. Their menu features things like 'beef leg' and 'fire-cooked meat', and drinks like 'strong drink' and 'elf stuff'.

The main gaming floor has all sorts of dice and card games, mostly stolen or copied from other cultures, often with a few rules missing or changed. 'Blacksap' is popular, as is 'Two Dice On Table'.

Harrot the Crusher walks the gaming floor, making poor attempts at small talk with his patrons. "Happy chance we meet at dice table not field of battle, where I sever your head and spear it on a pike, yes? Ha ha!" He genuinely believes he's being a jovial host.

Security is handled by Grodin Bonefang. Of all the orcs, he's had the hardest time adjusting to civilized life. His first instinct is still to reach for his axe. He is suspicious and ill-tempered, but keeps it in check behind a thin veneer of politeness.

Any half-orc PCs will receive preferential treatment from all the staff, including Grodin.



Looking Around

When any of the PCs attempt to leave the gaming floor, Grodin will approach them with suspicion. He's been instructed by Harrot not to fight, but he will make an exception if provoked. Sufficiently sneaky PCs might slip away unnoticed.

The PCs will find the statue on the second floor in a public gallery, conveniently away from crowds. The galleries are open, so there is a small chance of someone wandering by.

Transmuting the statue is easy. The pressure plate beneath the statue is less pleased; the sudden change in weight triggers the casino's security. Stout wooden shutters slam down to block all doors and windows, and a loud bell rings in the statue's gallery. Especially careful or observant PCs may detect and foil the pressure plate by maintaining the weight; if they come up with a credible plan, they deserve their prize unhindered.



Lockdown

The PCs will need to avoid Grodin on the way back to the gaming floor, though carrying the statue in a bottle will disguise the theft. The other patrons are on edge, and some are shouting angrily at their orc captors, who are trying to remain civil and calm. Some isolated pockets are erupting into violence. Harrot is struggling to control his warrior instinct, alternately threatening people and apologizing for the inconvenience.

Grodin will return to the gaming floor and try to interrogate people about the missing statue. If he saw the PCs leave, they are the first he questions. The crowd is growing more upset by the minute, and barring any interference, it will likely erupt into conflict.

One of the patrons is a pickpocket named Brogue, and he will attempt to steal the bottle containing the statue's liquid. If successful, he may wander elsewhere and drink the contents. This will have unpleasant consequences for the pickpocket.

The PCs have an hour before the transmutation wears off, so they'll need to leave the casino quickly. They might spark the riot; the furious patrons would easily batter down the barriers, and the PCs could fight their way out the front door. Alternately, the PCs might try to talk with the orcs; they could be persuaded to lift the lockdown and avoid violence. Finally, if the PCs can sneak away, sewer grates in the cellar would permit them to escape.
 

Rune

Once A Fool
Round 1, Match 2: Iron Sky vs. Imhotepthewise

[MENTION=60965]Iron Sky[/MENTION] and [MENTION=976]Imhotepthewise[/MENTION], you have 24 hours to post your entries to this thread. Please limit your entry to a title, a list of the ingredients used and 750 additional words.

Be aware, also, that any description of those ingredients that you choose to include will count against your word total. Please include your 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:

Faded Memory

Unasked Question

The End

Dangerous Knowledge

Rats

Brown Mold
 


Rune

Once A Fool
Judgement for Round 1, Match 1: MortalPlague vs. Wicht

So...first things first. Both contestants went way over the word limit. And both did it the same way. Both entries included descriptions alongside their ingredients which are specifically called out in the rules as counting against the limit. And have been for several years, I might add.

Here's the thing: to my mind, there are really only three reasons you might include these descriptions in an entry.

1. To further detail your ingredients.

2. To explicitly call out your ingredients so the judge doesn't miss them.

3. To explicitly call out your ingredients so casual readers don't miss them.

In the first case, these words serve the same function as the rest of the exposition. Especially with such a low word-limit, not counting these words against that limit very much defeats its purpose.

In the second and third cases, it shouldn't be necessary. I will be reading each entry thoroughly multiple times and casual readers are much more likely to be paying attention to the adventures than the ingredients that compose them. But, if it actually is necessary, it absolutely should be counting against the word limit, anyway.

So, for future contestants, let me emphasize: you are welcome to include descriptions alongside your ingredients if you want to, but only at the cost of your overall word-count. I am likely to be a lot less lenient about this in the future.

This time, for both entries, I simply cut off the top. I didn't read either section and I have no idea what details they intended to convey.

Okay, so let's get to the first match, shall we? We'll start with the ingredients.

Both entries used Riots at least reasonably well. Wicht's piece, "A Run of Luck" (henceforth, "Luck") builds to a chaotic climax (as Wicht is often wont to do) that culminates in a riotous riot that promises to be exciting. MortalPlague's "Taking Fate" ("Fate") is a little more spread out through the build-up of the adventure, and this is where it trumps as an ingredient. The ingredient, you see, is plural and "Fate" does a better job of making the initial riots feel separate--a series of small fires threatening to erupt into a single, massive blaze. In addition, providing the riots as possible cover for escape is a great way to tie the PCs in with the ingredient.

Happy Chance is an ingredient I expected to see used well. With so many possible interpretations, and a thematic element (and clear synergy with another such ingredient), I didn't know how it would be possible to miss with this one. Now I know.

"Luck" includes a character who, as a demigod, embodies the theme. Or should. But we never get a sense of Chance's motivations, even if we do know his goals. Why does he want to lose at the end? Why change the trophy to gold? If it's just to cause chaos, why? Further, happiness doesn't seem fundamental to the character and, in fact, doesn't even seem relevant until he gets his happy ending. And, thematically, the ingredient doesn't even seem well-represented. A happy chance is a serendipitous unforeseen occurrence. All of Chance's actions and advancement are the result of preplanned machinations--even his leaving with Luckbringer is a result of her premeditated manipulation.

Yet all of that is still better than "Fate," which only includes the ingredient as the name of the casino and an example of Harrot's speaking-style. Two separate incarnations and neither in any way important to the adventure.

Both entries use Civilized Orcs in much the same way. In fact, almost identically. Yet, one entry pulled it off a little better, I think. With an ingredient like this, one has to ask both "Why does it matter that these orcs are civilized?" and, "Why does it matter that these civilized people are orcs?" Both entries did a reasonable job of answering the first question: because it adds to the craziness when everything falls apart. But the second question is only really answered satisfyingly in one of the two. "Fate" dedicates quite a few words to showing us that the civilization is flawed from the outset--and is also all-encompassing throughout the entire casino staff. When things start going wrong, that's simply a larger scope than one orc with a great-axe, as fun as that may be.

"Fate" struggles with Fickle Fate. Simply put, the statue is merely a MacGuffin. And it's innate fickleness isn't even seen throughout the adventure--it is the PCs who are bringing it about. "Luck" uses this ingredient somewhat better. As a character, Luckbringer embodies a Fate (weaver of destiny) that does indeed switch (apparent) loyalties. In so doing, she also stretches the ingredient into a theme, as much of the game becomes about dealing with the flip. This is the kind of complication that makes an adventure memorable.

I never really got a feel for just how clueless the Clueless Investigator in "Fate" really was. In fact, he is set up as an obstacle better avoided than befuddled. Also, the only investigation that he does is interrogation (and intimidation?). "Luck" gives us more, even while giving us less to work with. First, it is important to the adventure that he is an investigator, right from the start. Second, he is both completely clueless about the truth of what's going down and is also without clues (evidence) when he makes his poorly-thought-out accusation. And, just to add a little deliciousness, he's actually correct about the cheating--he's just wrong about who's doing it!

"Fate" does a good job of making the Wondrous Conversion relevant to the PCs and tying it into the whole. Without it, the adventure can still happen, but it becomes a lot harder. In contrast, "Luck" seems only to give us a casino name, a MacGuffin, and a miracle-fountain. That fountain is subtly very important to the adventure, though. It ensures that, by the time the climax rolls around, (nearly?) everyone involved is (possibly very) drunk. Which can only contribute to the chaos. We'll call this one a wash.

Slight edge to "Luck" with the ingredients.

How about the adventures? First, let me say, I've seen better from both contestants. In a way, I'm glad that the first two contestants are such accomplished competitors, so the other contestants can get a sense for just what they're in for during this first round. The challenge level has intentionally been significantly ramped up. 24 hours to fine-tune an adventure down to 750 words is not easy.

And, with two very similar entries, one might expect to have a hard time distinguishing the two.

Let me start by saying that both adventures look fun. That's an important place to start. And this is one of those pairs of entries we get from time to time that looks like it could be easily combined into an even more fun adventure.

But that's a byproduct. In IRON DM, one contestant advances and one does not.

"Fate" seems to have more going on during most of the adventure than "Luck" does, especially where the PCs are concerned. Indeed, almost everything that the PCs in "Luck" (those not participating in the tournament) can get into seems to come at the expense of the climax, if we even have enough details to make it happen. Take, for instance, the Triplets. That begs for an encounter earlier on, but doing so will likely remove them from the scene for the climax (or start the riot too soon). The investigator also would be great if his snooping crossed the PCs early on, but doing so has great potential to change his conclusions and his method of revealing them. There's a lot to work with, here, but it seems under-detailed and a bit jumbled.

"Fate" is much tighter and, frankly, inclusive for all of the PCs all of the way through. But it just lacks the same level of stakes that "Luck" has. Right from the very weak hook (who hired the PCs and gave them the ring? And why? And for what reward?) straight through the escape afterword, the nature of the tool they are given makes getting caught very unlikely. With no clear motivation and no real sense of risk, I'm left to wonder, why should the PCs--or the players--bother?

[sblock]MortalPlague, I thought I was giving you the win, right up till I got to that last paragraph. But, having articulated those two flaws, I now have to reconsider, because, combined, they are a pretty huge stumbling block. Now I need to ask other questions. Is the structural superiority of your piece enough to outweigh the potential awesomeness of Wicht's? Are the one's shortcomings easier to fix than the others?

In the end, I think they stack up well against each other, which brings us back to the ingredients. And Wicht has the edge there. I'm going to reread your entry one more time to make sure I didn't miss anything, but I suspect it'll look like this: if you had used Happy Chance in any way that fit the ingredient and was important to the adventure, it would have been the better usage and you would be the victor.

...But, having checked one last time, I have to conclude that, by the barest of margins, Wicht has defeated the current IRON DM to advance to round 2. [/sblock]
 
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Wicht

Hero
Whew... and wow...

Reading through the judging, I had no idea who was going to win until I got to the last sentence. Good round MortalPlague.

I don't think I've ever been in a round where both entries had so many similarities...
1) The Casino
2) The orc owners
3) The transformation of the Macguffin as the Wondrous Conversion
4) The introduction of a pickpocket/thief as a non-ingredient plot-twist
5) The riot being the climax/culmination of all the other events

I found it fascinating that we both glommed onto similar themes.

I confess that I found the ingredients a bit difficult. Normally one or two of the ingredients will speak to me immediately, but when I read these I had nothing. I watched some tv and came back to them. Still nothing. I went to bed with not a clue what to do with them. Then when I woke up in the morning the whole thing, excepting the wondrous conversion, was there. I thought it a bit weaker than some of my other entries, but it was all I had, so I went with it.
 

MortalPlague

Adventurer
Please limit your entry to a title, a list of the ingredients used and 750 additional words. Please include your list of ingredients at the beginning of the entry and please do not edit your post once it is submitted.

That's where I thought the list of ingredients was aside from the word count. I didn't realize that it was purely a list with nothing added, since in the past, we've usually written a small line about where they were included. Just figured I'd show where the confusion may have stemmed from. :)


Congratulations to Wicht for the win. I'll confess I, too, found these elements to be very challenging. How does one include 'Happy Chance' without it just being a random happenstance? I went through several ideas which could hit on three or four elements, but putting the last few in was always a challenge. When I came up with a casino run by a retired orc warchief, I knew I had something fun, so I ran with it.

The 750 word limit was a big challenge. I deliberately left the employer and the reward out of the adventure, since they are entirely irrelevant to the goings-on in the casino. I wanted to devote my word count to setting the stage, to giving the party some NPCs to interact with, and to the challenge that needed to be overcome. With more words, I would have loved to introduce more NPCs in the mix.

Either way, it was fun to compete. Thanks for running the competition, and good luck the rest of the way, Wicht!
 

Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
The Last Act
A high-experience Warhammer Fantasy adventure.

Decades ago: deep in the Empire: Erinnerung-town; a centennial bonfire, new town crest proudly inked on foolscap sheets
Dawn: a traveler's call falls upon barred gates, silent walls. Engineers called; gates fall.
Erinnerung: empty save skin scraps, skittering rats, bloody smears, uncannily chilled. Chaos feared, Witch Hunters enter, wary, skilled.
Survivor: One. Rabid, raving.
Proscribed: Gates sealed – steel and lead – word spread: a death warrant upon the head of any who enter or speak upon. Upon every map, path and name removed.
Forgotten: Erinnerung, its mysteries: abandoned, relinquished to wilderness and time.
Opferburg: Another town falls.
Yesterday: Imperial Writ dispatched, Survivor released from distant asylum to lead the way back to Erinnerung.

Death to All Who Know
While camping, the party hears sounds of battle. A white-haired Witch Hunter crashes into them bearing a brace of pistols, wicked scars, wild eyes, and a mildewy reek. He screams of "hooded vermin", then coughs, spraying the party with chill, brown flecks. He leads them to an overturned coach surrounded by signs of recent battle, even the horses' corpses dragged into the night.

The Witch Hunter, Jäger Schädling, proclaims himself the hero of a tragedy, returned to the stage to complete the final act. Standing amidst the wreckage, he pronounces:

A town bygone and bygone, our sad players seek it out. Speaking of it, death follows. Approaching it, death awaits. Crusty blood, rusty mud, so cold! Consuming life, devouring warmth His blood all enfolds!

In his mad, melodramatic way Jäger reveals Erinnerung's fate and that "to know of it is a bounty, upon word of it all will hang". Further questioned, he reveals something dwells beneath Erinnerung, the exact what lies beneath decided by the Emperor best left unknown, undisturbed, and forgotten – until Erinnerung happened again. Jäger presents a faded foolscap sheet. Barely discernible: an elaborate inverted triangle on a russet field. "Lost Erinnerung's coat arms, found in Opferburg where all else was taken."

By this time, crusty brown mildew infests the characters, rimy to the touch. “You carry its slow rot now for life. At its source alone a violent cure and esteem of an Emperor.”

Blood and Treasure, Less Treasure
Traveling there presents the usual Old World dangers – orcs, bandits, weather, starvation, privation.

Jäger's hazy recollection and the players' skills finally lead them to forest-reclaimed Erinnerung where they must find a way into the ruin – scaling the crumbling wall or swimming the swollen river it fronts – then face canny traps, pitfalls, hazards, and hit-and-run ambushes by hooded figures in the rubble-strewn streets as Jäger leads onward.

At the sewer mouth, Jäger poses dramatically: "far below, the last act resides!"

Delving into the sewer, they finally face the Skaven face-to-face, assaulted from twist and turn and tunnel. The ratmen hurl handfuls of brown, mossy sludge that engorges on blood and drains all heat and light from torches while hordes of brown, mildewed rats gnaw at ankles. Wet brick sewer gives way to a tangled skein of warrens, leading deeper into the Skaven stronghold wherein are found maps etched on human skin: a dozen other towns to be "sacrificed".

Rot-Skaven battle them deeper within, the brown must in their fur devouring their innards when they die, the slimy remains running slowly down (or up) the tunnels.

Following the trickling slime, the tunnels culminate in a single massive pit.

Within, men and beasts are sacrificed, blood running into a viscous pool. Rot-Skaven stumble in, falling to putrefied lumps amidst the gunk. Bonfires roar, fed constantly as heat and flame are devoured, churning the fetid gore in the basin. In the middle of the pool, the corpse of a rat the size of a dragon lays gutted, its gnarled rams-horns curling around its skull. The holocaustic carnage seeps up and into it, like blood running back into a wound. In the center of its skull a brand: the same symbol as the Erinnerung arms.

"Behold, the Chaos God of rat and rot! Here my tragedy finally ends!" Jäger proclaims, revealing rune-traced explosives packed to his spare frame. "Aid me to the avatar's bulk, then flee. My finale is here; your tragedy but now begins."

They must protect Jäger until he detonates himself near the Horned Rat, then flee the warrens to bring answer to the Emperor: the many towns in danger by the “mythical” Skaven, the implication of the symbol on Erinnerung's arms, and the but-delayed Coming of the Horned Rat.

Ingredients


  • Faded Memory
  • Unasked Question
  • The End
  • Dangerous Knowledge
  • Rats
  • Brown Mold
 

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