Iron DM 2016 (The Complete Game Thread!)


Welcome to Iron DM 2016!

This thread is the actual game thread. We will use it for posting the contest ingredients, the actual entries, the judging of those entries, and all commentary on the entries. Be mindful that this thread is the place where it's all recorded for posterity. We encourage onlookers to comment on entries, and we also encourage participants, following judgments to comment on their processes in writing the entries.

Before we get started, let us once more mention the rules by which this years contest will be judged. They are more or less the same from year to year, but we encourage participants to make sure they are familiar with the rules. The main change this year is that we are going to try allowing 36 hours for the second round. Last year it was 48. We'll see how that works out and those that participate in round 2 can mention after how it affected their work.

[sblock=This Year's Rules:]
Iron DM 2016 Contest Rules

The Basics:

An Iron DM tournament is set up in a single-elimination bracket style, with each match determined based on scheduling availability among the eligible contestants. Matches will begin at a time designated by the judge and conclude according to the time allotted for the round.

Each match will consist of two contestants given a single set of ingredients with which to construct a brief adventure outline or synopsis. This adventure can be for any game system or genre of the contestant’s choosing. It is not expected that the synopsis will, or should, contain stat blocks, or other mechanical details. The contestant is responsible for making sure that the entry is written in such a way as to be as clear, concise, detailed, or simple as necessary.

[Judges Note: New contestants are well advised to read entries from previous years to see what sort of presentation style makes for a good entry. ]

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 within which to submit entries. Entries that are late may still be accepted at the discretion of the judge.

[Judges Note: Each judge has historically had their own methods of judging. If a late entry is accepted, a contestant may expect to be penalized for the late entry, and the later it is, the less likely it is to be accepted. It is preferred for an entry to be turned in on time, but incomplete than late and completed.]

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. Ingredient use is the crux of the tournament.

[Judges Note: Do not assume that doing a good job with three ingredients will be enough, as long as you can craft a better adventure!

First round contestants will be given six ingredients for their matches. Second round matches will have seven ingredients each and the final round will have eight ingredients.


All entries are to be submitted with the list of ingredients at the top. DO NOT EDIT YOUR POST, ONCE YOU HAVE SUBMITTED IT! Contestants are responsible for proofing their work before submission and editing a submission is grounds for disqualification from the match.

While contestants may provide web links within an entry, such links will not be considered in judging. All relevant information for the entry must be within the entry itself.
Beyond those things mentioned here, there is no set formatting style for entries, but contestants are advised that the easier an entry is to read, the easier it is to judge.


Each entry will be judged on its own merits. Each entry will receive a written critique from the judge according to the standard of the judge. Each judge is free to subjectively use their own judgment as to the merits of entries, and a judgment once made is final. Contestants understand that this is a subjective contest and playing to the style of a judge may be a valid part of the contest for an entrant. Each judgment will conclude by announcing the winner, in that judge’s estimation. If a contest is judged by multiple judges, such as a panel of three, then the entry that receives a majority of judgments in its favor is the winner. Winners of the first two rounds advance to the following round to compete further. The winner of the third round is deemed the Iron DM for the year.
Judges are expected to be fair and constructive in the critiques according to the tradition of Iron DM. The goal is for the contest to be fun and each judge is expected to understand that goal and their duties.

2016 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; however any descriptions or definitions of ingredients will count against the limit!). Contestants who win their Round 1 matches will proceed to Round 2.

Round 2:

All matches in the second round will have a 36 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; however any descriptions or definitions of ingredients included in the ingredient list 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 2016!

Addendum: By entering Iron DM, you acknoweldge that your ideas are subject to being used by others, as this is a public contest and the entries will be posted publically. This does not preclude you from making whatever use you want of the material you produce on your own website, for your own campaign, or even professionally. We do ask that following the contest, you leave your entry as is, for posterity and that your entry may be added to our growing anthology of entries.

This Year's Competitors!​
1. [MENTION=34958]Deuce Traveler[/MENTION]


3. [MENTION=57112]Gradine[/MENTION]

4. [MENTION=976]Imhotepthewise[/MENTION]

5. [MENTION=786]GuardianLurker[/MENTION]

6. [MENTION=92511]steeldragons[/MENTION]

7. [MENTION=6857996]LongGoneWrier[/MENTION]

8. [MENTION=6762606]LucasC[/MENTION]

This Year's Judges!​

Wicht, Iron Sky, Lwaxy

Round 1
Match 1:
LucasC vs. LongGone Wrier; Judgment
Match 2: Steeldragons vs. Rune; Judgment
Match 3: Guardian Lurker vs. Imhotepthewise; Judgment
Match 4: Gradine vs. Deuce Traveler; Judgment

Round 2
Match 1: LongGoneWrier vs. Deuce Traveler
Match 2: Imhotepthewise vs. Rune

Round 3
Final Match: Deuce Traveler vs. Rune
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The first match is scheduled to begin at 4 pm EST (10/02)
[MENTION=6762606]LucasC[/MENTION], and [MENTION=6857996]LongGoneWrier[/MENTION] - you may check in at you convenience, if you want, to let us know you are ready


Round 1, Match 1 [MENTION=6857996]LongGoneWrier[/MENTION] vs. [MENTION=6762606]LucasC[/MENTION]

Your Ingredients are:
Opaque Window
Dancing Jack-o-lanterns
Rude Necromancer
Dread Pestilence
Dangerous Score
Silver Idol

You have until 4:10 p.m. EST tomorrow to produce your entry. Good Luck, and please remember not to edit your entry after you post it.

I will be the judge of this first match.
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Opaque Window
Dancing Jack-O-Lanterns
Rude Necromancer
Dread Pestilence
Dangerous Score
Silver Idol

On the first evening of autumn, a strange silver statuette of a pumpkin-headed man appears in the center of town. Around the neck of the statuette hangs a sign which declares this day to be “Super Spoopy Day” and that the “Super Spoopy Contest” has begun. Characters might also notice that the town itself has been surrounded by a strange mist. Anyone entering the mists is subject to horrible visions and teleported to the center of town. Those who take the time to search the sky also notice that the moon seems warped and swirling with a vibrant orange color.
According to the sign, each person has a “Spoopy Score” and can earn “Spoopy Points” by doing “Spoopies!” Whomever has the highest Score at the end of the night wins the silver statuette, which appears to be valuable, if unnerving. The final line of the sign is more cryptic: “Scaredy Cat Get Ahold Of Jack! Don’t Be Scared No More!”
An amber number “0” floats above the heads of all townsfolk. The silver statuette cackles and belches forth a cloud of green gas, choking those nearby. Those affected begin screaming in fear and anger, lashing out at those around them. As they do, the numbers above their heads begin to increase.

Murder, destruction of property, intimidation, and plain old jump scares are all methods of earning Spoopy Points, although some things (like murder) are worth more. The town descends into chaos as people either flee in terror or take to the Spoopy Contest wholeheartedly. Demonic pumpkin and skeleton creatures wriggle from the shadows cast by the strange orange moon and begin dancing in the pale moonlight, or chasing or goading the townsfolk. The moon shines a bright beam of light down into the town, always illuminating the person with the highest score.

The silver statuette emitted a fast-acting disease that infected townsfolk with paranoia, fear, and jealousy of everyone they meet. This disease is spread through physical contact and is airborne for a very short time after it leaves its host. Unless the characters take immediate and drastic action, the whole town is likely infected.
Anyone holding the statuette is immediately cured of its disease (although they are still susceptible to re-infection should they lose the statue). In addition, the holder of the statue can name a place in town and be immediately teleported there.

MAD MAGE MALGALORE - the insane wizard who is the cause of these strange events, Malgalore is a planeshopping lunatic who decided to rustle up a bit of entertainment for himself and remind the townsfolk of the true origin of their harvest festivals. He has spirited the town away to a demiplane (hence, the mists). He watches from another dimensional bubble, and looks down from behind the portal between the two planes which he has inexpertly disguised as the moon. The jack-o-lanterns all feature a twisted version of his face, and he occasionally speaks through the pumpkins to encourage further “Spoopiness”. The moon adopts the general features of his face after a few hours.
KARL THE CADAVEROUS - a travelling necromancer, Karl is afraid the townsfolk will suspect he is behind the night’s events due to his magical nature. He is polite and graceful with his words, yet his words leave people itching to smack him in his smug face. He defends himself from the townsfolk with lethal force, and he happily raises dead townsfolk as his minions. He is willing to work alongside the characters, provided they can stand his constant verbal barbs. He only wishes to survive the night and be on his way.
“KNIFEHANDS” LEX - an assassin and thug who puts on an awkward, bumbling act when not in business, Lex sees the contest as a chance to enjoy himself and practice his skills.

The Contest ends at dawn, or if a group deduces the cause of the night’s events and uses the statue to teleport to “the man in the moon”, or something similar. Malgalore is not an evil man, and reveals that any deaths that transpired were merely illusions. He returns the town to its normal place, and rewards the players with treasure for “being such good sports”. Even if his ruse is not discovered, Malgalore thanks the town for their good spirits in the morning and conjures a fistful of gold (some real, some chocolate) into the hands of all the townsfolk, and dispels the illusory deaths.


Once A Fool
[sblock=Commentary on SPOOPY SCARY SCAREAWEEN]I like the pure chaos inherent in your scenario, [MENTION=6857996]LongGoneWrier[/MENTION]. Seems like fun![/sblock]


First Post
The Treasure of Char

- Opaque Window
- Dancing Jack-o-lanterns
- Rude Necromancer
- Dread Pestilence
- Dangerous Score
- Silver Idol


Char was once a place of pastoral beauty: rolling hills, idyllic pastures, and lush forests. To celebrate the birth of their first child, the King and Queen threw a great ball and to that ball came Jack, a necromancer of some renown. Horrified by his presence, the royal couple had him thrown out and, in retaliation, Jack unleashed a plague so devastating that it killed the entire realm, to the last soul. Now, Char is a quiet, dark place, full of death.

It is said that, at the heart of Char, there is a tower, its windows black as night, hiding a massive treasure. Just what hides behind those windows is unknown, but since the fall of Char the tower has drawn treasure hunters from across the world. Certainly anyone that can steal this score will be rich beyond imagining, if they can survive the taking!

The Hook: Recover the treasure of Char

1: The Drunk Necromancer
Objective: Learn the necromancer’s secrets.

The game begins in a tavern where a crude necromancer, with a tongue like a whip, is getting drunk. He brags of the treasure of Char, swearing, around mouthfuls of food, that he knows how to past the Guardian of Char.

The necromancer knows two useful secrets: (1) the Guardian sees through all falsehood, and (2) it will stand aside for anyone that offers it exactly 30 pieces of silver.

Running the Scene
PCs will quickly learn that they cannot threaten this man. He has lived alongside death too long. They must put up with him, charming him despite his rude tongue, which he lashes out with incessantly. Play the man as arrogant, crude, abrasive, and offensive.

The challenge the PCs face is getting him to talk, despite his unending litany of abuse directed their way, and learning both secrets. He is quick to give up the first secret, but the PCs must offer him something of true value before he spills the second.

2: The Guardian
Objective: Get past the guardian.
After a long journey, the PCs arrive at massive stone gates barring entry into Char. Before the gates stands a mighty silver statue. After killing them with his plague, Jack bound the souls of Char’s dead within the statue, and charged it with jealously guarding entry to Char. The Guardian can see through all illusion and knows truth when it hears it.

Running the Scene
If the PCs know the secret of the Guardian, they can quickly bypass this behemoth. Failing that, combat is likely. The Guardian is a powerful juggernaut.

3: The Lands of Char
Objective: Get to the tower.
The lands of Char are dangerous, filled with more tormented souls of Jack’s victims. The PCs can fight their way through hordes of undead, use stealth, or some other means to reach the tower.

4: At the Tower
Objective: Get past the jack-o’-lanterns.
Before the black tower, more than two dozen jack-o’-lanterns dance eternally for the amusement of Jack. This is what befalls thieves killed by Jack, and is the fate of the PCs, if they fail. Jack beheads them, then animates their corpse, giving each a small glowing ember. The jack-o’-lanterns cannot see far, only within the light of their ember, but they can sense the presence of life, and they seek to destroy it.

Running the Scene
The jack-o’-lanterns can be fooled by PCs that disguise themselves and mimic the creatures awkward, pained dance. If they fail to dupe them, the undead attack, hurling flame from their embers and clawing with their long fingernails.

5: Beyond the Windows
Objective: Retrieve the treasure.
With the Guardian, the undead, and the jack-o’-lanterns overcome, the PCs can enter the tower where Jack waits, the only thing between them and the treasure of Char.

Jack knows the secrets of life and death and is an opponent that only fools or the mighty fight. The “treasure” is the child born to the King and Queen of Char, held asleep, and unaging, all these years. If the PCs rescue the child, and defeat or drive off Jack, Char is freed of Jack’s curse and slowly returns to its prior state.

Running the Scene
Jack fights if he must. He can call undead hordes to his side, and slay his enemies with a gaze. Diplomacy is the wiser course here. Jack was snubbed, and all this has all been about vengeance. If the PCs convince him Char has suffered enough, he will quit the lands without a fight.


Once A Fool
[sblock=Commentary on The Treasure of Char]I like the imagery and the dark fairy-tale feel in your entry, [MENTION=6762606]LucasC[/MENTION]. Also, the clearly established high stakes.[/sblock]

Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Round 1, Match 2 [MENTION=67]Rune[/MENTION] and [MENTION=92511]steeldragons[/MENTION].

Your Ingredients are:

Bad Lead
Fang of Mercy
Cracked Road
Leech Mining
Wax Seal
Huge Pumpkin

You have until noon EST tomorrow to produce your entry. Good Luck, and please remember not to edit your entry after you post it.

I will be the judge of this match.

For my complete judging process so there are no surprises:

[sblock]My definition of "Adventure": a tool designed to reduce the time and effort required by a GM to run quality RPG sessions. If you create an adventure that saves GMs creative energy before and in-game, significantly reduces the amount of prep-time required, and produces fun and a great play experience at the table, you have succeeded. If it fails in any of these, it has failed as an adventure.

I will read your entry multiple times, asking myself the following questions as I read and answering them in my judgement of your adventure. The questions are roughly in order of importance with the ones in italics generally worth about as much as the rest put together.

First Pass - Initial Appeal: Does it have any "cool factors" - things that will elicit "neat", "cool", "awesome", or, best of all: "wow!"? Does it seem like an adventure that would be fun to play and an interesting premise to pitch to players? Is the entry fun to read or at least easy? Is the adventure clearly understandable? Is the editing appealing or at least legible? Are there typos?

Second Pass - Play-ability: Do the players' choices or, at the very least, their presence in the adventure matter? Is all the cool stuff buried in the backstory or do the players get to see it too? Would this be fun and exciting to run? How easy (or difficult) would this be to GM? If it is linear, does it hide it well or will players complain about railroading? If it is more free-form, is there still enough structure that the GM can still run it without a ton of extra effort?

Third Pass - The Rules: Was it turned in on time? Is the word count within limits? Are any ingredients used in an especially creative way? Was it clear what each ingredient was or were any obscure or vague? How essential are the ingredients: if I changed the words in any ingredient, would they no longer work? How interwoven were the ingredients with each other and how essential was each to the adventure? Aside from their main use, were any ingredients used in other clever ways?

Comparison: Once all three passes are complete on each entry, I will compare each entry's First, Second, and Third passes individually. Whichever I deem is stronger on two out of three will advance to the next round.

Notice in the Third Pass that I'm a stickler for the rules - many "real life" contests and/or writing gigs have strict submission requirements, miss those and it likely doesn't matter how cool your stuff is they'll likely chuck it. Typo in your query letter? Deleted. Miss the electronic submission deadline? Link disappears. Sure, this is just a "for fun" contest on the internet, but this is IronDM, not CopperDM; you know what you signed up for.

I will be using the word counter linked above, remember you get your title and the ingredients list for free.[/sblock]


Steeliest of the dragons
Thanks [MENTION=60965]Iron Sky[/MENTION]. Looking forward to it.

Have at ye, [MENTION=67]Rune[/MENTION]. See y'all tomorrow.

Happy creating to all of our fellow competitors!


Iron DM 2016 Round 1, Match 1

SPOOPY SCARY SCAREAWEEN” (LongGoneWrier) vs. “The Treasure of Char” (LucasC)

Firstly, when I judge, I use something of a personal scoring system to help myself weigh the various factors and criteria when deciding between entries.

[sblock=A Summary of Wicht’s Iron DM Scoring System, patent pending]
Followed the Rules: Wordcount, time limit, etc. (worth 6 points)
Ingredient Use: Were all the ingredients legitimately used as a necessary part of the adventure? (worth 12 points)
Useability: How easy could a GM plop the adventure down into their game? (worth 6 points)
Style: Personal preference – how much does the presentation and adventure appeal to the judge (worth 6 points) [/sblock]
And as I look at these two entries, I am thankful for that system because, at the start, I am not quite sure which I prefer… I think I know, but there is doubt.

Both entries are, to me, marked more by their weaknesses than their strengths, and the primary weakness I see in both is very similar. This is not to say that they don’t have their strengths, because they do, but in adventure writing (for other people) there are certain things you should never, ever do, and both of these adventures touch upon one of those role-playing third rails…

But we’ll get back to that.

Let’s get some book-keeping things out of the way. Firstly – did the adventures follow the rules?

Both were turned in on time. Both were just under the word count. And both presented the ingredients at the top. So full marks to both adventures for playing by the rules. Good job there.

Next, let us examine the ingredients and how well they were used in our RPG dishes. Did the DMs craft adventures worthy of the ingredients or were they just carelessly tossed in?

Let’s start with opaque window. I deduce in “SSS”, the moon itself is the opaque window through which the very powerful wizard scries the town below, a bit like the moon in The Truman Show, a particularly favorite movie of mine. I’m of two minds about this ingredient use, because on the one hand, it is a powerful image. On the other hand, it’s not necessarily something that is going to really affect the PCs, except to be noticed in passing. But as an ingredient, it’s use is far better than the use that we see in “TToC.” In that entry, the opaque windows are really nothing more than, pardon the pun, window dressing. They could have just as easily been any other building material, and I can’t tell it would have made any difference.

The situation is somewhat reversed with the next ingredient, dancing Jack-o-lanterns. Here I think it is “TToC” that has the better use, with the monstrous entities being the lopped of heads of prior explorers and would-be-thieves. In “SSS” the creatures could easily be replaced by any other ghoulish sort of entity and it would not make much difference to their function or reason for being.

Then we come to the rude Necromancer. I must confess that I am not really that fond of either use. In “TToC,” while the drunk necromancer is indeed rude, the fact he is a necromancer is really irrelevant. He could be any rude individual at the bar, with secret information, and it wouldn’t change anything. Jack might be considered as a stand in – he is obviously more necromantic in his dealings, wiping out an entire kingdom, but he is not presented as being rude. He just wants someone to apologize to him. Deranged he may be, but he doesn’t fit the bill quite. The necromancer in “SSS” is indeed a “necromancer” and could be a compelling character, , fearful of being accused, and willing to raise the dead to defend himself, and that is all great, but when we read his description, the first thing that we read is he is polite, but in a smug way. Polite is normally the opposite of rude, even when smug, but… the use is still marginally better.

The next ingredient is Dread Pestilence, and here again, “SSS” is better. As with the windows, the pestilence in “TToC” is mere background. The PCs do not actually interact with it in a meaningful way. However, in “SSS” it affects everyone and is a central element driving the adventure. In a similar way, the silver idol of “SSS” has far more of a role to play in the adventure, protecting the holder as it does, and being the source of the plague. The silver idol in “TToC” is not so much an idol as it is a guardian. The idea of the souls being bound to it is interesting, but not really integral. More could have been done, I think, with the idea, but it wasn’t. And if you plop a traditional Sphinx down as the gate guardian instead, what would be different? I think it would play much the same role, in exactly the same way.

Then finally the dangerous score. I will be brutally honest that I think the ideas of numbers floating above the heads, as in “SSS” is too “gamey,” and too modern. Some other indicator, other than floating numerals would be more evocative, and just as effective. But the idea is still intriguing, and would provide for interesting RPing as the PCs analyze others through the numbers, and would be so analyzed in return. In “TToC” the score is really just a macguffin, a goal to reach, and a bit of wordplay. And then, in the end, it is not the score that is dangerous, but the journey to reach it. I think here again, “SSS” edges out its competitor.

As I analyze the scores for ingredient use, “SSS” is clearly in the lead over “TToC”

So let’s talk about useability. And here is where I have to talk about some of the weaknesses of the adventures, as presented, because it really is at the heart of the problems I have with both. Firstly, neither adventure really addresses which RPG system they are meant to be run with, which I think hurts “SSS” more than it does “TToC.” System doesn’t always matter, but then again, a choice of system also speaks somewhat to the expectations of the adventure. A Toon Game is going to be very different in expectations from a D&D/Pathfinder adventure, and yet again from a Supernatural sort of system. On my initial read through of “SSS” I got a modern fantasy sort of vibe, but I think it may be meant to be a standard fantasy setting. But the whole numbers over the heads is sort of cartoony, and you could run the thing pretty well in Toon, as something of a slap’n’dash cartoon. The use of the modern spoopy meme also points to a somewhat comical intention. But its not spelled out, which hurts it.

But that’s not my real problem with either adventure (though I think in the case of “SSS” if it had been a Toon adventure, or something similar, the other problem would also be solved). If the adventures are meant to be run straight, the real problem is with the protagonist of each. In each case the writer has made the same basic mistake of making the villain unbeatable. They are nothing more than reverse deus-ex-machinas, and not very subtle ones at that. The power of the wizard causing all the trouble in “SSS” is godlike in his power. The shifting of a whole town, the massive amounts of illusions, the mind-control… it’s all a bit much. It would have made much more sense to just have made him some sort of trickster god, and left it at that (which made me think of the whole Supernatural adventure angle). “TToC” has a similar problem, though it is a problem I approach from a slightly different viewpoint. In this case, the adventure seems to me to clearly be meant for a traditional fantasy setting, but who the PCs are meant to be is never quite made clear. Are they low level folks fresh off the farm caught up in an epic romance? The dangers suggest characters more powerful. But if they are meant to be powerful, then why is the bad-guy so unbeatable? The ending becomes unsatisfying, at least to me.

Then there is the scope of the adventures, and the presentation. “TToC” is really just a journey adventure. The challenges presented in detail are potentially interesting, but are presented as being either unchallenging because of cleverness, or overly challenging because of numbers. I know the word limit is, well, limiting, but I am not sure it was used to best advantage. Too many unimportant things are dwelt on, such as the drunk at the bar, but details of the actual adventure are glossed over too quickly. “SSS” on the other hand is very sandboxy, and some of the people presented are interesting, but more could have and should have been done to present a variety of other challenges. It is a bit too chaotic in presentation, which would make trying to adapt it somewhat chaotic as well. For a chaotic adventure to be run well, it is necessary that it be well organized.

As is, I think both have potential, but as presented, both need work to be more useable.

And so we come to style. Right up front, The Treasure of Char appeals to my instinctual tastes with its fairytale like atmosphere and background. The sleeping princess, even as a literal babe, has appealed through the ages for a reason. However, the PCs might be a little miffed to be expecting money and wind up with a baby princess. But, I think where the adventure suffers the most is in its linearity. It is a story the PCs are caught up in, and there is an expectation that it will play out according to script. All adventures telling a story must do this somewhat, but here it is too heavy handed I think. On the other hand, Spoopy Scary Scareaween did not immediately grab me, because, if I am to be honest, the word Spoopy just rubs me all sorts of wrong. I also dislike all-powerful NPCs. If you are not a god, then you should have limits. PCs don’t like facing DM fiat when it is so heavy-handed. But moving past that first distaste, I find that there is a lot to potentially like about this adventure. Don’t get me wrong, I think it needs a lot of work, and it needs to decide what kind of adventure it wants to grow up to be. But it has room to grow to be just about anything it wants. I still give “TToC” a slight nod style wise, but I don’t dislike “SSS” quite as much as I first thought I did, and I think it could grow on me even more with just the right polish.

Which leads me to a verdict, and it’s not the verdict I thought I would have reached when I started. In this case, the victor belongs to the entry that used the ingredients the best – which is Spoopy Scary Scareaween. It was close, but this round goes to our newcomer – LongGoneWrier. Congratulations and good luck in round 2.

LongGoneWrier – Spoopy Scary Scareaween
Followed the Rules 6/6
Ingredient Use 10/12
Useability 3/6
Style 3/6
Total: 22/30

LucasC – The Treasure of Char
Followed the Rules 6/6
Ingredient Use 7/12
Useability 3/6
Style 4/6
Total: 20/30
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[MENTION=6857996]LongGoneWrier[/MENTION] and [MENTION=6762606]LucasC[/MENTION] - feel free to pontificate on your entries now. :)

Oh wow. I didn't think I'd knock out one of the old guard like this. Gotta say, LucasC, i really dug both the jack-o-lanterns being ex-adventurers (I may or may not be stuck relishing Curse of Strahd right now), and the twist on "treasure". A nice reminder about why people go adventuring.

As for "pontificating", I've been in too many creative writing workshops to defend my ugly baby all that much. I actually could have sworn that system agnosticism was part of the point of these contests? But if you want me to ground it in a specific system, in all likelihood it'll default to D&D unless it's clear otherwise (mention of deckers/crane clan/etc).

Finally, sorry for the general "spoopiness" ( last time I use it, I swear!). I saw "dancing jack-o-lanterns and immediately assumed there was a dancing pumpkin skeleton meme reference in there.

I had a blast working this out, and am looking forward to the next round. Thanks, LucasC, and thanks, Wicht, for putting me through the paces!


I actually could have sworn that system agnosticism was part of the point of these contests?

Yes and no. We are open to adventures belonging to any system, and high-fantasy is the default, but we have had adventures for any number of systems. As I said, just stating a system provides expectational constraints on the reader and grounds it somewhat. When using a minimum of words, such as here, broad strokes that provide deliniation and assumed details can be a benefit to the writer.


The Elephant in the Room (she/they)
Yes and no. We are open to adventures belonging to any system, and high-fantasy is the default, but we have had adventures for any number of systems. As I said, just stating a system provides expectational constraints on the reader and grounds it somewhat. When using a minimum of words, such as here, broad strokes that provide deliniation and assumed details can be a benefit to the writer.

As a point of curiosity; typically there has been a byline or subtitle that signifies the system and the expected level; e.g; "A high fantasy D&D 5e adventure for 4-5 6th level adventurers"). Would such a byline be considered part of the title, and thus exempt from the word limit? Or would it need to be counted?


As a point of curiosity; typically there has been a byline or subtitle that signifies the system and the expected level; e.g; "A high fantasy D&D 5e adventure for 4-5 6th level adventurers"). Would such a byline be considered part of the title, and thus exempt from the word limit? Or would it need to be counted?

I would count it in the word count. It is providing information about the expectations of the adventure. Likewise, as a couple of us found out the hard way last year, any descriptions accompanying the word list also count against word count.

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