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

Adventurer
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

Adventurer
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
 

Imhotepthewise

Explorer
Faded Memory

Unasked Question

The End

Dangerous Knowledge

Rats

Brown Mold

Might As Well Be Walking On The Sun

[The sun is changing due to the machinations of the illithids]

The lands where the PCs live are getting hotter by the day. The days are unbearable, nearly impossible to be outside for any length of time. It almost slips the collective people’s minds that it is fall, and temperatures should be going down. Seeing the leaves change color was impossible, as the trees and most other plants have been burnt dead by the merciless heat of the sun.

One of the PCs henchmen’s grandfather calls his grandchild to his closed up home and shows him a diagram he has made on a parchment on the wall. A beam of sunlight shines in from a tiny hole in the wall, landing on the parchment. An inked circle lies well within the beam’s circle on the parchment. The grandfather learned of this method long ago, how to observe the sun when the eclipse happens, though, like many things these days, he cannot remember where.

The grandfather is not sure what is happening. He can only see the projected disk getting bigger and the heat getting hotter.

The grandfather says that the people cannot stay here much longer. Traveling in any direction will not allow hiding from the sun. The grandfather seems to remember there is an entrance to the underdark through the caves nearby. Long ago, he says there was a trading station deep in the underdark that he visited as a very young man, but it was later overrun by subterranean creatures and abandoned. He says the way is fraught with danger, but it may be the only place to be safe from the heat.

The grandchild is not comfortable relying on the grandfather’s memory. The grandchild knows of the caves, and many of the caves have collapsed over the years.

One cave has become popular recently because it is bathed in cool air flowing up from deep in the earth. People have stayed near its entrance, fearing to venture down into its depths. A constant stream of rodents has been flowing down into the darkness, fleeing the heat outside.

The PCs must get out of the heat or it will eventually kill them. They must flee the surface and settle in the underdark.

The henchman loves the grandfather, but knows to bring him along will probably kill him. The henchman tells the PC that he is hesitant to ask the grandfather to come. The PCs can support this silence, or encourage the henchman to bring him along. The grandfather, though stubborn, will relent and try, if successfully convinced by the henchman supported by the PCs. If they get the grandfather to the trading station alive, they should be well rewarded.

The PCs enter the cave and pass the people who sought shelter there. Some may be convinced to come along, but will turn back if things seem too difficult. The party is constantly brushed by the bodies of rats and other vermin taking the same path down into the darkness. The cave air gets colder and colder.

The PCs travel down and come upon a cave with a great sinkhole that nearly encompasses the entire floor. Cold air pumps up from the depth of this hole. The cave narrows and continues on the other side. The left path around is wide, but marked with dark stains. The path to the right is narrow and broken in many places. The rats moving down the left path die screeching when touching the dark stains, which causes the stains to grow as a result. The rats moving down the right path negotiate the narrow path, leaping from shattered piece to piece, some making it, some falling screeching into the darkness below.

If the PCs travel across the dark stains, they will suffer the cold attack of the stain, but may possibly make it around. If the PCs negotiate to narrow broken path, there are enough handholds to make it all the way around with difficulty.

On the other side of the sinkhole, the path winds deep into the underdark. The PCs come upon the trading station, heavily damaged by the attacks of long ago. The conquerors obviously took what they wanted and sank back down into the darkness. There is water flowing nearby, the air is nice and cool, and there are plenty of rats to kill and eat for a while.
 

Rune

Once A Fool
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. :)

Oh, I'm not surprised. There's a reason it was the first thing I checked. But the relevant passage (for round 1) is the following:

From the Rules as posted in both threads said:
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.

That bit in the parentheses has been appearing in some form since 2011. And it's been in effect, as well. It just hasn't been so significant because of the higher word counts. But, hey, it was all a wash in the end.
 

Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Don't have much more to add about Wicht and MortalPlague's entries, but will mention my favorite bits from each:

I love the luck + reversal mechanics in A Run of Luck, as well as the way, as Rune said, everything suddenly comes to a furious climax at once.

My favorites from Taking Fate are the Indiana Jones-style pressure plate (I can just hear the PC's groaning/laughing when it triggers) and the awful fate of poor Brogue.

I agree with Rune that that was super close - I had no idea which would take it until the end. Glad I didn't have to judge that one!

Nice work either way to both of you, and congrats to Wicht!
 

Rune

Once A Fool
Round 1, Match 3: Gradine vs. Wik

[MENTION=57112]Gradine[/MENTION] and [MENTION=40177]Wik[/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:

Tear

Underground Passage

Hopeless Quest

Grave News

Traveling Entertainer

Charming Devil
 

Wik

First Post
Redemptions

Ingredients:
1. Tear
2. Underground Passage
3. Hopeless Quest
4. Grave News
5. Travelling Entertainer
6. Charming Devil


In the town of Aebrilloch, appearances matter. Talented folk go nowhere without looks. Gauge, a minstrel with a scribe’s face, only wanted to bring happiness to the downtrodden through song. But not in Aebrilloch. Doomed to wander the streets while lesser bards enthralled, he despairingly sought release.

He found himself at the gate of Helmine, a local “priestess”. Begging for guidance, he found himself enthralled, for she was the most bewitching woman he had ever met. Within hours, he spoke of his dearest wish – to be the greatest entertainer of the land.

But Helmine was no angel. Half Erinyes and half Tiefling, the cambion possessed infernal magics. She granted wishes, but always at the price of a compulsion that suited her vengeful whims. Many a wealthy nobleman began his career in Helmine’s Hall. Gauge was no exception.

He received the gifts of a glorious bard, but Helmine’s price was steep: to remain on the roads unless within cities, but to stay in no city (or town) for more than a week – no city could be revisited twice in any 666 day period.

Gauge took the offer, and became a celebrated bard. Then he fell in love, and all hell broke loose.

Her name is Sera, and she travelled with Gauge for a while as a singer. Before long, they married and she became pregnant. She gave birth to twins in Aebrilloch, forced to raise her children alone while Gauge’s curse compelled him to the road.

The Curse:

Helmine is a devil in disguise with a retinue of charmed townsfolk in her employ. They protect her from harm, and are found throughout Aebrilloch. Helmine has inherited an Erinyes drive for conquest over others. Those she cannot use magic to control, she controls with “other” charms. Those under her compulsion (which are many) all bear the same mark – a single tear in an eye, never-ending. She has been in Aberilloch for a long time… such that it is known as “the city of tears”.

Gauge’s Redemption:

Gauge is known as “The Weeping Bard” throughout the land for his depressing hymns. His goal, seemingly hopeless, is to be a good father, despite being only able to see his children one week every two years. Often, the tears in his eyes have little to do with his curse.

Undertaking:

Travelling after his most recent visit to Aebrilloch (the twins are now six and beginning to question their father’s constant absence), Gauge receives a terrible threat from Helmine: the graves of Sera and children. These graves have a death date a week hence – but the dates are in flux. Helmine is taunting Gauge.

Unable to get near Aebrilloch, he can accompany PCs to a nearby town he’s deliberately left unvisited for emergencies. Gauge begs PCs to be his proxies in town, and to kill Helmine to protect his family. He knows this will not end his compulsion, but at least they will be safe.

Before the PCs head into Aebrilloch, he teaches them a song that will protect them from Helmine’s charming power. He also mentions the one way to undo his compulsion – to get Helmine to repent. This goal, seemingly impossible, is one that Gauge dreams of every night, but he knows it is hopeless. Though, isn’t that what heroes do?

Graves:

As the PCs travel and take actions, the dates of death on the graves change. Used wisely, they can provide important news on the party’s progress.

Aebrilloch:

Aebrilloch is filled with teary-eyed citizens. Assaults on Helmine’s Hall are suicidal. If the PCs find a way into secret underground passages that link the houses, they could find a way to the devil. With entrances in the cemetery, these passages were constructed by ghouls to move about town in search of food. The stench is horrid; eyes water constantly, which may cause suspicion amongst the paranoid!

Wrong turns in the passages can be detected through the graves (the dates will change), which can be used as a map to the Hall. If PCs sing Gauge’s song, they keep dungeon denizens away.

Helmine’s Hall:
Helmine’s Hall is exactly the type of home a devilish seducer would desire – red silks, garish statues, and ensorcelled servants with terrified eyes. PCs will have to fight through compelled defenders to seek an audience with Helmine. Naturally, she offers deals. The PCs have one chance to get her to repent and so free Gauge; otherwise, they’ll have to settle for killing her and freeing Sera and the twins.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
Tearin' It Up

Tearin' It Up
A Supernatural adventure

Ingredients:
Tear
Underground Passage
Hopeless Quest
Grave News
Traveling Entertainer
Charming Devil

Hook
“Zombies? S#!*.”
“Been following the papers for days, hoping it weren't true, but you know the signs sure as shootin'. Cemetery vandalism. Strange flu. Unexplained deaths. The CDC's involvement all but confirms it. The dead are rising from their graves.”

Research
“Weren't she that chick from 'Merican Idol?”
Macon was the first town hit, before heading up to Marietta, Reseca and Dalton. Atlanta was somehow spared, plus all the other podunk towns along the 75. A cross-reference comes up with the locations for Shells Fausey's “Tearin' It Up” tour. Zombies rise the day after she blows through. She'd been playing mostly dive bars, but she's been stirring up some buzz something fierce, and recently booked the show of a lifetime: Nashville, Tennessee.

Nashville
“I might have talked about waking the dead? I don't know, Wild Turkey makes me all poetical.”
Shells Fausey was a semi-finalist on The Voice, but as a black female country artist never made headway in the business. When Blake Shelton stopped returning her calls she returned home to Roberta, just trying to make ends meet. That's when she met the gentleman at the crossroads.

Now, the FBI may be ignorant but they ain't idjits. Well, some of 'em ain't idjits. They can put two and two together and get something relatively close to four sometimes, and they've connected the dots on Shells too. They'll pick her up for questioning before her show, if our Hunters don't get to her first. They probably won't believe that she sold her soul to the devil for one last shot. Our Hunters know better. Will these washed up numbskulls never learn? Stealing her out from under the FBI's nose won't be easy.

Something feels off about her, and any sort of supernatural detection will reveal a strange aura about her. She'll register as neither living nor dead, as if she represents some sort of tear in the fabric between life and death. It's damn freaky. She'll spill that she might have maybe sort of made a reference to waking the dead when making her deal? Apparently Wild Turkey makes her dumber than two sacks of hair. Our Hunters better take Shells back to her crossroads to see if they can't get her contract tore up.

Underground Railroad
“My ancestors would be rolling in their graves, having some white folks smuggle me INTO Georgia. If they're still in 'em, anyway.”

The FBI has the 75 locked down. Shells is wanted, so disguises might be a risky play. It's the most direct route, though swarming with agents and zombies. There's safer passage down the backroads. Plenty of re-purposed hideaways from the old slave-freeing days. Keep an eye out for stray zombies. Shells'll ask for a gun to protect herself. She's plenty handy with a pistol, if our Hunters'll spare one. She won't let up if they decline. It'll be a long trip.

Crossroads
“She is intoxicating. And she is mine.”

The dead start rising faster as Shells approaches Roberta. By the time they reach the crossroads they will be swarming. They stop their advance only as long as the crossroads demon is summoned.

Montgomery is a marvelous dandy of a demon with a stylish white suit and only the finest southern airs. He is taken with Shells; nothing the Hunters have to offer will be worth more to him than her. He will, however, promise to tell the Hunters how to stop the zombies, so long as they offer him an unspecified favor at some future juncture. No souls, nothing life-threatening, just a friendly quid-pro-quo. If they agree, Monty'll tell them what Shells already suspects: the only thing that'll stop the zombies for good is Shells' death. Whether they agree or decline, Montgomery will return to Hell at the nearest opportunity, unleashing the horde.

No Other Way
“Shoulda listened to them dumb stories. Maybe next time, right?”

If armed, Shells will turn her gun on herself. If not, Shells will demand they kill her. All zombies stop on her death. It would take the devil's own luck for our Hunters to escape the horde with Shells, and then what? Nashville and every other town they've passed will be doomed while they search for some leverage against Montgomery. Shells wont have that on her conscience. It would take extreme lengths to confine and protect Shells. How many lives will be lost in that search, if it even bears fruit? Can our Hunters live with that?
 

Rune

Once A Fool
[MENTION=34958]Deuce Traveler[/MENTION] and [MENTION=6762606]LucasC[/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:

New Graves

Jovial Innkeeper

Desperate Gnoll

Painful Pun

Death from Above

Half Measure
 

LucasC

First Post
The Game

  • New Graves
  • Jovial Innkeeper
  • Desperate Gnoll
  • Painful Pun
  • Death from Above
  • Half Measure



Wherein the PCs become entangled in a demon’s game.

Background
Magnus Elicosh was born to a life of wealth and decadence. Years ago, while attending a party, he played a game involving demonic dealings. He lost. The demon demanded his most prized possession and Magnus handed over his daughter. Enraged, the demon took her and departed, swearing to return. It knew the truth: the child was not his most valued possession, money was.

The demon’s threat terrified Magnus. His friends urged him to seek out Draalis Nightspear, the greatest wizard in the land, but Magnus knew great wizards cost gold, so he found a local hedge wizard to exorcise the demon, saved some coin, and slept soundly.

Time passed.

A year ago, Magnus learned a secret. In the Barony of Doud, in the shadow of the great mountain Kingshill, lay the tiny village of Rundible, and beneath it vast untapped veins of gold, gold enough to quadruple his wealth. Through intermediaries, he began buying up property to seize control of the village. He is almost fully extended, his wealth tapped. Luckily, only a few key properties remain, among them the bar Fiendish Brews.

When a pack of gnolls learned of the gold, Magnus hired a mercenary to kill them. This mercenary, Olivia, did as instructed, but her true instructions came from the demon, for she is the child given over years earlier. All but one was killed, their corpses left high above Rundible, at the waterfall’s mouth. The survivor was imprisoned in an oubliette hidden in the town’s cemetery.

Aided by demonic magic, the rotting carcasses have poisoned Rundible’s water causing a wasting sickness to strike the village. Half the town has already died and the cemetery overflows with recently dug graves. Fearing for the safety of the realm, Baron Doud sent help, but when they succumbed to the sickness, he decided Rundible and its residents must be burned.

As the adventure begins, Rundible is a shambles, its people in mourning; Magnus is panicking, on the verge of losing everything; and the baron’s army has begun a days-long march from their high mountain stronghold, fully intent on putting the entire town to the torch.

Rundible
Rundible is a quiet town built at the base of a mountain with a magnificent waterfall cascading hundreds of feet, to form a lake around which the village sprawls. Its cemetery, now bursting with fresh graves, is at the base of this waterfall.

Actors
Emit: The barkeep Emit acquired Fiendish Brews two years ago. He always has a sparkle in his eyes and a smile on his lips, as if he knows something. And he does, for Emit is the demon come to make Magnus pay. He cannot hide his glee, a fact that should unsettle the PCs, given the state of Rundible.

Olivia: Magnus’ daughter and mercenary. The only thing Olivia hates more than the demon is her father. She wants to see him pay and will let the entire town die if needed, but she’s not evil and can be brought around. Her continued presence in town is unusual since it’s ravaged by disease.

Declan: Once a rich man, Declan was beggared by Magnus’ move into Rundible. He attended the party years ago and can recount the entire tale. Emit encourages this by reminding him it’s “time for Magnus to pay his debt.” Declan blames everything on Magnus.

Ragaesh: The gnoll Ragaesh grows increasingly desperate in his oubliette, which is hidden beneath a fresh grave covered with mushrooms. It’s easily overlooked because of all the mist kicked up by the nearby waterfall. He’ll do anything to live, and holds the key to Magnus’ downfall.

The Game
The demon is still playing the game, and does not act openly. When interacting with the PCs in his tavern, for example, he might point them towards the gnoll using jokes such as:

A mushroom walked in here to order a drink but I told it we don’t serve mushrooms. He says, “Why not? I’m a fun guy!”
or
I tried to catch some fog but I mist.

Objectives
  • Stop Magnus from swindling the locals
  • Save Rundible from the baron’s army
  • Cure the disease
  • Unmask the demon

Involving the PCs
  • As locals, they must solve the problem to save their friends, family, and themselves.
  • They’ve been hired by Magnus to double-check Olivia’s work.
  • They’re the baron’s last-ditch effort and must cure the disease before the army arrives.
 

Deuce Traveler

Adventurer
The Inn of the Tarnished Mirror

Ingredients:
New Graves
Jovial Innkeeper
Desperate Gnoll
Painful Pun
Death from Above
Half Measure

Hook: A patron hears that the heroes are leaving town. The patron asks for them to be on the lookout for a hired messenger that went missing.

Adventure: The road between the two settlements is not highly populated, and a popular stop along the way is the Inn of the Tarnished Mirror, known for its lively common area, its eponymous mirror, and its jovial innkeeper, Raol. If questioned about the messenger, Raol admits that he has had so many folks pass through that it's hard for him to remember anyone.

Most visitors present at the establishment are local or well-known traders who frequent the inn. The other patrons admit that Raol seems stressed lately as his wife and lovely daughter have not been at the inn recently, gone to tend to a sick relative, resulting in a loss of quality in the food.

Another odd thing about Raol lately is that his famously ribald humor and joke telling has been dropped for a darker tone of late, usually focused on people suffering horrible personal injury. These painful puns even pass into side comments to patrons, such as "let me take up your plate and dinner knife. Wouldn't want to see you slice yourself up and bleed all over the place." The rooms of the inn are still excellent, with comfortable beds and walls lined with tasteful art.

If the heroes talk to the patrons about the missing messenger, they are told that they had seen him or her passing through. No one can recall seeing when the messenger left. They also had spotted a gnoll near the road, though the creature fled upon being seen. This being the only lead the characters have, they may try to go to the area the gnoll was discovered near and track the creature down. They find the desperate gnoll eating decayed fresh from bodies placed in newly packed, unmarked graves. The bodies inside the graves are only a few days old, but they are all human. The bodies were skinned, flesh removed, and the remaining parts tossed into sacks (along with bloodied clothing and blankets) and buried here, only a few hours walk from the inn. There are at least four bodies here: Raol, his wife, his daughter, and the messenger.

If the heroes question the gnoll, they find him half-crazed but with a strange story. He was in a small pack of other gnolls that depended upon each other for safety and survival. The pack was killed off one by one, creating paranoia among the group until they eventually began turning upon one another. He was one of two survivors, but when he went to confront his last companion, the other changed shape into some sort of demon. Terrified, the gnoll fled and believed anyone approaching him could change shape at any time to the monster that he saw that day, so he has has survived by eating smaller animals and the decayed meat from fresh graves he has been inexplicably finding of late. The gnoll is willing to show the party further grave sites. All the graves are within a few hours from the inn.

If the party decides that the innkeeper is culpable, they may immediately attack the innkeeper. This may lead to confusion and reprisals from the surprised patrons. If the heroes take time to try and apprehend Raol and search the premises, they'll find the evidence they need to incriminate him. In the cellar, there are bloody clothing from the latest victim, questionable meat near a meat grinder, and a half-full measuring cup of human blood. The bedrooms reveal small holes cut out behind paintings, just above helpless people would be murdered. Although the party might demand vigilante justice, the crowd would expect the fake Raol to be tried.

This might lead to further complications unless Raol is watched carefully, for he is really a doppleganger and will not show his true form unless he has no other choice left. The doppleganger killed Raol's daughter one day, and impersonating her killed off Raol and his wife before taking up Raol's identity. The doppleganger has been living comfortably since, killing off single travelers, stealing their wealth and serving their remains back to the other patrons.

Further Adventures: If the doppleganger should escape, the party is likely to have the animosity of a psychotic monster, who will continue to patiently stalk them and make their lives horrid in retaliation for ending its good time.
 

Rune

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

Let me start by saying that I considered this to be the hardest of the first-round sets of ingredients. In particular, The End is a very vague and very big concept to deal with in such a limited number of words. And Unasked Question?

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I was so often (but not universally!) disappointed by how both of these entries used ingredients. In addition, both adventures are fairly linear, which, as I've said in the past, is not necessarily bad, but is necessarily limiting for the players and for the DM.

We'll get back to that later.

In Iron Sky's "The Last Act" (henceforth, "Act"), Faded Memory is what the fallen town(s) has become. It is completely removed from record. Redacted. This is a compelling backdrop and central to the adventure. Not so, unfortunately, in Imhotepthewise's "Might As Well Be Walking On The Sun" (which we'll call "Sun"--and, by the way, kudos for really taking advantage of the word-limit exemption with this title!). Herein, the faded memory is the origin of grandpa's knowledge of how to gain plot-relevant knowledge. Is that even going to get mentioned in passing? The ingredient may as well be non-existent.

Moving on. I should not be surprised that I had such a difficult time identifying the Unasked Question in both of these entries. Both entries produce several questions I want to ask. But, as both entries should probably have explicitly done (especially with such a low word-limit), I'll narrow it down to one unasked question per entry. For "Act," the question is "What's going on?" And the answering of it is the adventure itself. So that works.

In "Sun," the question would be the same, but for the aside about illithids at the beginning. The question then becomes "Why?" And the answer is not there--so, what could be a great hook for an ongoing campaign instead isn't. Worse, there is no way for the PCs to learn the answer to either question (or even know to ask the second).

Both entries handle The End in much the same way. There are a lot of things that could apply and no lone thing that explicitly does. This is not generally a good practice in IRON DM. Even if you're going for a thematic approach (which both entries did) by having the ingredient resurface throughout the entry, you still should have one that is central to the adventure. Because otherwise, you don't.

"Sun" gives us knowledge, but no Dangerous Knowledge. Nothing in the knowledge grandpa has is, in itself, dangerous; it merely is about dangerous things. In contrast, "Act" makes knowledge of (some of) what is going on actually physically dangerous in a fairly clever way: in the process of gaining that knowledge (and curiosity should ensure that it is likely), they become infected with the mold-rot. As long as they have a means of seeing that crazy-moldy-guy is diseased this hook ought to be both rat bastardly and effective. (Although it wouldn't work if ported over to D&D, because: paladins.)

Rats and Brown Mold both play a prominent role in "Act" and are both pretty much just scenery in "Sun." In the one entry, everything plays out differently if the disease-carriers aren't (sentient) vermin and the mold is something different. In the other, nothing fundamentally changes if either is removed entirely. And why is it only rodents seeking to escape the sun? Wouldn't all animals be doing that? Why specifically call out rats?

Okay. Let's get to the adventures. I said before that they were both linear. The difference, though is that, in "Act," the PCs have things to do. In "Sun," they don't even really need to be there. The events of the adventure would play out more or less the same way without them.

Which is a shame. Because I really like the scenario. Exodus from an unstoppable and wide-ranging threat is a compelling change of pace from the typical fare. It has real potential to be remembered forever. Unfortunately, the work involved in getting it there is a real barrier.

Especially when set beside "Act," which, while also linear, manages to be a solid adventure with a lot of great flavor (and I want to point out that the method of conveying a lot of that flavor and a great deal of background through the poetic introduction is both efficient and compelling).

Imhotepthewise, you are very good at concocting unique and interesting scenarios. And you know how to set up an evocative scene. These are strengths that you can and should build on in future tournaments. I've sounded pretty harsh throughout this entire judgement, but I think you're actually not very far from potentially becoming a feared competitor. Here are the two things I think you would want to work on to make that happen:

1: Make sure those ingredients are central to the adventure and irreplaceable.

2: Make sure of the same thing for the PCs.

If you can do those things, everything else should follow naturally. Above all, keep building on your strengths! I look forward to seeing what kinds of out-of-the box scenarios you'll come up with.

All that said, it's pretty clear that Iron Sky advances to Round 2.
 

Dungeon Delver's Guide

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