Iron DM 2016 (The Complete Game Thread!)


The Elephant in the Room (she/they)
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.

Figured as much. The low word count in Round 1 is definitely a bit of a puzzle. You really have to prioritize sections (down to specific descriptors, some times) to make sure you're providing the most important, valuable information, while also still creating a whole piece that flows well and reads coherently. Deciding what to sacrifice (and how) was the hardest part.

And the thing with the ingredient lists was especially brutal. It seemed to be you used to be able to take for granted your ability to explain, however briefly, your ingredient usage. Now it's gotta be clear, which isn't always easy for the more abstract ingredients.

Anyway, congrats to LGW on a hard-won round! I'm excited to see what everyone else is able to come up with (and excited to get started on my own!)

log in or register to remove this ad

Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
I found the first round to be by far the hardest last year. I spent several hours stealing four words here to add them in there, finding more concise ways to describe things to free up two words I could "spend" somewhere else. Then I realized I'd forgotten a paragraph and had to steal 34 words...
Last edited:


Steeliest of the dragons
The Horror Harvest of Hoargath

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

You travel to the dale of Bowerton to partake in their annual Harvest festivities. But there is no cheer in Bowerton. “The Curse of Hoargath” lays upon the valley, they say. Crops fail. The swamp spreads. People vanish into the mists.

There is a ruin, called “the Fang,” in the Fetch Drain swamp north of the village. You are implored to head north, across the fields, into the swamp. Find the Cracked Road which will lead you to the ruin. It is believed the evil of the ancient wizard, Hoargath, is rooted there.

The Fields
Not far into the fog-filled fields you wade into a sprawling pumpkin patch with a huge pumpkin at its center, easily 10‘ tall and twice as wide. Huge golden blossoms and thick vines cascade from the top into the field around it.

Surrounding the pumpkin are 6 missing townsfolk. They attack with farm tools (DC12 Perception roll for any character within 10‘ to notice the vines and squash blossoms coiled about -or sprouting from?!- their shoulders and necks.)

The pumpkin is a Yellow Squash Creeper. Killing the Creeper releases the townsfolk from its influence.

A search of the giant squash reveals a 4' tall doorway cut into the rind that is sealed shut by a disc of yellow wax stamped with the image of a fanged wolf. Breaking the waxen seal and opening the rind door reveals the majority of the pumpkin is hollow and furnished as a simple cottage. Suspended by vines and tendrils of squash growing around and through it, in the center of the hollow gourd, is the corpse of a thoroughly dead leprechaun. There is a burlap bag holding 10 giant seeds [yellow squash creeper seeds] and a small iron pot with a lid containing 200 gold coins.

The Fetch Drain
The swamp is difficult terrain almost immediately upon entering it. For each hour of exploration in the swamp, roll a swamp encounter (d4). Don’t reuse results.
1. HAZARD! Quicksand, 10‘ diameter
2. The Leech Mines: You come to tiered paddies of muck. Two unarmed lizardmen in each paddy (10 total) periodically pull leeches out of the mire and put them in a sack. If attacked, they fight to the death. If approached peacefully, they won’t react at all.

A giant leech is in each paddy section with the lizardmen and readily attacks non-reptileans entering the mire.

The lizardmen are charmed. If the condition is removed, they cry “Mersssy!” before fleeing into the swamp. Established communication reveals “Mersssy” is the name of the “misstrissss in ruinsss.” They don’t know why they are mining leeches other than “for the mistress.” Any freed lizardmen can direct -but refuse to guide- the party to the Cracked Road.
3. FIGHT! 3d10 stirges
4. The Cracked Road: A stretch of road spanned this swamp long ago, now broken and overgrown, but provides a usable roadway (10‘ wide, 10’ over the swamp) straight into the heart of the swamp. The road is “cracked” in several places. Roll d6 each hour of travel. Results 1-2 indicates a gap in the road. Roll d10 to determine the number of feet of roadway missing. The party must figure ways across the gaps or fall into the mire.

After traveling the Cracked Road for d6 hours, it comes to an abrupt end at a mostly intact gatehouse before a leaning, curving, crumbling tower.

The Fang
(DC15 Perception to notice the seal of red wax over the archway’s keystone stamped with an image of a fanged wolf). In the courtyard, at the entry to the 30' tall three-storied tower, stands a hulking dark grey figure.

At the Gate is a Lead Golem. 8‘ tall, chaotic evil, and made of lead offering amazing resilience against magic, but mass and density restricts speed, it always loses initiative. It will attack anyone not with its mistress.

The Tower is home to the new mistress of the swamp and the Fang, the beautiful vampire sorceress, Mercy. Her coffin is not in this tower. The first floor is a laboratory, including large jars filled with giant seeds, bits of vegetation, a leprechaun suspended in liquid, and a giant leech carcass strapped to a table. The second floor is set up as half parlor-half study, richly furnished (3 golem manuals among other valuables). Mercy is here. The third floor is unused, half its roof is missing. Mercy uses this to escape (in either bat or gaseous form), if necessary.


Once A Fool
Round 1, Match 2: steeldragons vs. Rune

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


A 5e D&D adventure best suited for 4-5 2nd level characters.

Once-prosperous, Irondelve is dying. Astride a broken road, in the shadow of Ironreach, whence ore and livelihood once flowed. Few folk remain. Superstitious. Scared. Beset by forces beyond their ken.

Bodies start appearing. One last week. This week, two. Friends. Neighbors. Pierced necks and drained of blood. Enter the PCs, to investigate for coin or curiosity.

Townsfolk talk:

  • Evil spirits about. Mischief on outlying farms. Wails escape the underworld through abyssal cracks along the corroded Lonely Road. The wise ward themselves with trinkets and jack o' lanterns guard each house.

  • Ol' Gordon is so frightened he's offered to carve his prized 400-pound pumpkin into a ward, unfinished at adventure's start.

  • The woods are home to witches and warlocks. Entering them, especially at night, is downright foolish.

  • Pumpkin-ward candles keep disappearing overnight.

  • Outside of town, an acting troupe, with performances each night. Sanguine, leading actor, causes trouble after shows. Rowdy, heartthrob, drunken vandal. Also, very pale. And never seen during the day.

This last has people rumbling that the scoundrel is a vampire, a clue the PCs may wish to explore. This is a bad lead, however; hedonistic, nocturnal, and a legitimate threat to many a maiden's virginity, Sanguine is no undead monster.


  • The night after the PCs arrive, Gordon's huge pumpkin is smashed to pieces and another body (with a single large hole in its neck), once Gordon's, is deposited at town's edge in stealth by two hooded humanoids.

  • When the townsfolk make these discoveries (in the morning, unless the PCs hasten events), they form an angry mob, intent on staking Sanguine through his heart. The mob can be dispersed (if the PCs are so inclined) through violence, speech, or supernatural display.

  • Townsfolk will disappear daily and their drained bodies will reappear nightly until the true cause is dealt with, or no townsfolk remain.

  • If the PCs are about and alone on any morning, one may be attacked by two spies, who attempt to abduct the PC for delivery to the Bloodworks in the mines.

The Wild:

The wilderness watches the PCs. Herein, a secretive druidic order. A problem beyond their reach festers and, if the PCs will help, they are granted audience with the order's head:

Creature of legend, guardian naga, eternally bound to a sacred grove. Notably, a missing fang.

The naga speaks:

  • The Lonely Road rapidly decays--entropy birthed beneath Ironreach, perhaps, but wilted life could merely be early winter's onset.

  • The naga's druids are likewise bound; their role is naught but to preserve, to guard.

  • Drained townsfolk are discarded outside the old mine. The druids return them to town so kin can find peace in laying them to rest.

  • The villain is known. Compelled by geas, a condition of her mercy, to return ere a month has passed and compelled also to never be parted from the fang wrested from her maw.


In the mines, the Bloodsmith's leech mining operation. Hellish vapors roil from boiling vats, gradually eating even earth. Crates of labeled bottles, liquid sparkling red, blood stripped of essence.

These read: "The Bloodsmith's Wonderous Arcanely Fortified and Purified Blood of Innocents! Use in Profane Rituals, Diabolical Rites, and Unusual Recipes! Better blood than you can harvest yourself! Well worth the price!"

The Bloodsmith has two servants--spies--abductors of townsfolk. Mornings, they hunt a new sacrifice while the Bloodsmith prepares. Afternoons, they are stealthy sentinels outside while their employer drains the victim. Bottle after bottle is filled with blood drawn with a syringe fashioned from the naga's fang.

The corrosive vapors that permeate the mines have made the fang brittle and porous. Thus, between uses, it is dipped into melted candle wax to form a seal. Without the wax seal, the fang cannot be used for bloodletting.

Each hour underground brings a 50% chance of taking 2d6 acid damage. This usually kills captives long before exsanguination can. PCs and the Bloodsmith also face this hazard, but the Bloodsmith is a dragonborn with black dragon ancestry (use the same stats as a knight, but with +2 to Strength and Charisma, proficiency in deception and alchemist's supplies, acid resistance, and an acid breath weapon attack).

Should the PCs choose to show him mercy, it may not matter for long. A charlatan, with ambitions of fleecing wealthy and amoral arcanists and cultists. They will not be pleased once they have product in hand.

Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Round 1, Match 3 @Imonhotepthewise and [MENTION=786]GuardianLurker[/MENTION]

Your Ingredients are:

Starless Stream
Hungry Darkness
Forged Pardon
Dry Water
Arcane Gambler

You have until 10pm 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. 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]

Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
O... M... G... I just typed up the whole comprehensive Match 2 Judgement - at the very least 10 pages worth - then hit post and got the "Invalid Token" message so it's all... gone. Right after I hit send, I remembered to always get a copy before posting, but I was too late.

When I recover, I'll write up a new - likely much, much, much more concise version. Hopefully will still get it done tonight, but no promises. By tomorrow at the latest.

Sorry. :/


Once A Fool
Ack! Been there, had the heart attack! Any chance the forum's auto save kicked in somewhere along the way?

(And 10 pages? That's quite comprehensive, sir!)

An Advertisement