Iron DM 2016 (The Complete Game Thread!)

Lwaxy

Cute but dangerous
Round 1, Match 4 Judgement

I reread the entries several times,trying to imagine myself using the adventures for any of my groups. Which is, asides from use of ingredients, the main point for me.

Rules - In time, word count within limits for both entries.

Use of ingredients

Jumping Beetles - Both entries make equal use of this as one of the main ingredients.
Echoing Sounds - For Leaping Shimmers, the echoing sounds of the beetles mimicking sounds is slightly more relevant to the adventure. While the ticking clock in The Torment of Thornhill Manor definitely adds to the creepiness of the situation, with the mimicking beetles, a GM can do a lot more. Advantage for Leaping Shimmers.

Nightmare Clock - As expected, a central part of both stories. And I like both ideas equally. But the use in Leaping Shimmers, again, has a bit more to offer for a GM. It could be used as a continuing point for the story, whereas in The Torment of Thornhill Manor, the clock comes over as just another element of strange. The relevance of time passing differently is minimal, unless you want to have the PCs emerge in a different time than they have started in. It's also a much used element in stories, whereas the beetles spouting from the clock in Leaping Shimmers are more of a surprise. Advantage for Leaping Shimmers.

Feat of Weakness - Leaping Shimmers has two people survive due to their weaknesses, while The Torment of Thornhill Manor takes the opposite approach with Lord Thornhill succumbing to his fear of insects. Both uses were relatively weak (no pun intended), but while the survivors could have survived in either case (pink socks, dogs going after someone else) the insect fear of Lord Thornhill is much more relavant to the story. Advantage for The Torment of Thornhill Manor.

Wild Dogs
- In Leaping Shimmers, the dogs only show up as a distraction for the beetles, whereas in The Torment of Thornhill Manor, they are the very reason why the hag even goes after the inhabitants of the manor. Advantage for The Torment of Thornhill Manor.
Pink Socks
- A clear relevance in Leaping Shimmers,and the GM could do fun things with it. In The Torment of Thornhill Manor, they play a rather obscure role. It's not quite clear why Lord Thornhill needs those socks other than he's cold. A GM could easily add a better reason, but it makes the use of this weaker. Advantage Leaping Shimmers.

Readability

Advantage for Leaping Shimmers with a clear, very easy to read structure. It is obvious that The Torment of Thornhill Manor has more potential without word count restrictions. At times, it was confusing to figure out what's what and why.

Use in game play

Leaping Shimmers is a good, mostly linear story, which could also be adapted as insert in several parts into an ongoing campaign. Not much the GM has to think of or to keep track for, so that's perfect. The Torment of Thornhill Manor is more difficult to coordinate, but is more open to interpretation and improvisation, which is better for lots of groups (and GMs). It also has all the important poi8nted about the people in the manor. However, the adventure should be finished as-is, so advantage Leaping Shimmers.

Would my players have fun with it?

Yes,a definite yes, to both adventures. I'm going to grab them for my Halloween specials.

All in all, Leaping Shimmers has more appeal to me. Congrats Deuce Traveler!
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Imhotepthewise

Explorer
I want to thank [MENTION=786]GuardianLurker[/MENTION] for a great contest. When I first skimmed his entry, I thought, "oh man, I am toast". Thanks to my old opponent [MENTION=60965]Iron Sky[/MENTION] for judging. More later, car broke down.
 

Gradine

The Elephant in the Room (she/they)
This has been a disappointing, and frankly, fairly frustrating experience. Clearly the product I've put out was not nearly as clear as I expected it be (the importance of the clock, and therefore the echoes, most significantly.) Was the owner of the socks that unclear though? Not that it matters much, I'll cop to the weak usage, but it's a little frustrating to read a judgment that gets a basic fact of your product wrong.

I knew this judgment would be close, Deuce obviously put together a great entry. I felt, at least at the time, this was probably not just my best adventure in this competition, but my best overall entry. ​I believed, and still do, I've not done a better job yet writing with the ingredients. I think too much of it simply ended on the cutting room floor. And I can't see it.

I'll be brutally honest: 750 is too few words. Clearly not for everyone. But for me, definitely. The limit just does not play to my strengths as a writer. I loved coming up with this concept (the genesis: Why do the socks have to be pink?), I loved writing the adventure. I even, I believe, gained a lot from the process of simplifying it to better fit the limits. But the cutting? The 10 words here, five words there, they'll still get the thing about the clock, right? I didn't find value from that process. Perhaps because I didn't learn the right lessons from it. It can't help but feel a little frustrating.

Oh well, next year.

Congrats to Deuce, anyway, on a match well won! I'll be rooting for you from the sidelines. :)
 

Wicht

Hero
[MENTION=57112]Gradine[/MENTION] - remind me to tell you the story of the ghost dryad in the mast sometime. :)

Your entry was very good, and I hope the frustrations don't keep you from trying again.

Per the word count, I know that Rune and I and whoever else helps us hammer out these things want to know the parts of the rules that the majority of contestants feel could use some change. There are valid reasons for the 750 words, but that does not make critiques of the rules unwelcome and none of the rules are set in stone for next year.
 

Gradine

The Elephant in the Room (she/they)
To be extra clear; I'm griping way more about my own abilities (or lack thereof) than I am about the rules I understood and agreed to in advance :)

That said, if I had a vote for next year, my vote would be to up it to 1000. A good, whole number. Lots of zeroes. :p
 
Last edited:

Gradine

The Elephant in the Room (she/they)
On a <calmer> review, I think I can see the problem a little clearer, in that I was a little too cute by half in sprinkling the significance of the clock too thin in too many places. Something that central deserved its own section. I recalled one of the successes I had last year in this format in weaving backstory and adventure together, which I think only worked as well as it did last year because of how linear that adventure was compared to this one.

So okay, I did learn something. :p
 

Rune

Once A Fool
[MENTION=57112]Gradine[/MENTION] - remind me to tell you the story of the ghost dryad in the mast sometime. :)

Ooo. That's a good one!

Your entry was very good, and I hope the frustrations don't keep you from trying again.

Echoed.

Per the word count, I know that Rune and I and whoever else helps us hammer out these things want to know the parts of the rules that the majority of contestants feel could use some change. There are valid reasons for the 750 words, but that does not make critiques of the rules unwelcome and none of the rules are set in stone for next year.

If the first round seems like an exceptional challenge, that's exactly the point. Round 1 is designed to test the limits of the contestants' discipline and problem-solving creativity and execution. Round 1 isn't supposed to be a challenge; it's supposed to be a stress-test.

On a <calmer> review, I think I can see the problem a little clearer, in that I was a little too cute by half in sprinkling the significance of the clock too thin in too many places. Something that central deserved its own section. I recalled one of the successes I had last year in this format in weaving backstory and adventure together, which I think only worked as well as it did last year because of how linear that adventure was compared to this one.

So okay, I did learn something. :p

I'm not so sure I completely agree with your conclusion, here. There's a difference between simple and linear. Round one necessitates simplicity; I don't think linearity is required (although, as I've said before--it is not inherently bad, either. Merely inherently limiting for both players and DM).
 
Last edited:

Imhotepthewise

Explorer
After 4 years of competing, I am honored to be found worthy of moving forward out of the first round.
[MENTION=786]GuardianLurker[/MENTION] is a tough opponent. I feel lucky to have inched ahead of him.

As you say, the 750 word count is brutal. I cite that as the reason some of the sentences in my entry are not quite all there. Hizzhonor the judge [MENTION=60965]Iron Sky[/MENTION] zoomed right in on the sentence I found to be the weakest in the writeup.

I delight in finding reasons to use real world places for adventures. I have known about the Kentucky Bend for some time now, and am glad this entry gave me a chance to work with it.

The percentages of back story to adventure is something I have been criticized hard for in previous entries. I fought hard to avoid a railroad adventure. Like [MENTION=786]GuardianLurker[/MENTION], I could have used more word space to flesh out the backstory so I could make a better adventure.

As to the adventure, I wanted to offer the PCs choices. I started DMing in 1979 as a “No!” DM running very linear adventures. Today, thanks to [MENTION=2]Piratecat[/MENTION] and Dungeon World, I am a “Yes!” and a “what do you do?” gamemaster, letting the characters lead the story.

As to the ingredients (I am soooo happy I did not draw the Pink Socks!):

Hungry Darkness is Belle, who I saw as a not so powerful vampire as very smart and crafty. She’s in it for the long haul, not seeing an easy way out the fix she is in. Not so interested in making a meal of Preacher, because it is too much effort to take down a holy man when there was easier prey around.

Doomsayer is Preacher, who I saw as a con artist trying to survive in a bad spot. Not a spellcaster, holy man, or even physically threatening, he took on a persona he knew would make him interesting as food. The holy book, chosen for its looks not its content (any one see city street preachers and their well worn bibles?) is only part of his costume. Belle doesn’t bother to check its potency, and the lesser vampires assume since she doesn’t attack him they shouldn’t either. He keeps up the show daily to keep from being eaten. If he knew a way out, he would take it. He may have inadvertently come up with an epiphany concerning Belle without really realizing it.

Starless Stream was very hard, just sayin. I was originally going to use a paddlewheel riverboat on a dark river, but couldn’t make it work.

Arcane Gambler. I wish I could claim being the originator of hexslinger, but Shane Hensley’s excellent Deadlands is the source for that. If you don’t know it, you should. Mike is a conniving bastard, but knows some facts that could work out well for him.

Dry Water was the hardest. I thought of it waking early in the morning and it switched me from the riverboat to the bend. I was thinking of the old spell Airy Water. As far as doable, the Mississippi is about a half a mile wide between New Madrid Missouri and the Kentucky Bend. I would imagine I would have to have a very indulgent DM to cast a spell of that magnitude.

Forged Pardon. This also came to me waking early. The holy book is a total sham. It is only dangerous because the vampires think it is. If they bothered to approach Preacher, they would easily find this out.
So, I can’t apologize for giving the PCs free rein. Good NPCs make good adventures, and this entry has plenty of options for good roleplaying, combat, stealth, or magic use.

As a DM, I would love to see some players hoist Mike on his own petard and expose him to the vampires at a point that would do him the least good. I see him as the real bad guy in this adventure. He has options, but the PCs could kick the chair out from under him if they play well.

Thanks for allowing me to play.
 

Gradine

The Elephant in the Room (she/they)
Ooo. That's a good one!

I'm not so sure I completely agree with your conclusion, here. There's a difference between simple and linear. Round one necessitates simplicity; I don't think linearity is required (although, as I've said before--it is not inherently bad, either. Merely inherently limiting for both players and DM).

My conclusion was less "linear = better"; more that the approach I took with important background details worked better in a more linear adventure (where I could provide important details exactly when they were relevant).

To wit; it was not clear at all that Thornhill stirring in his sleep when the clock chimed was not only the reason for the dream briefly shifting to the nightmare events, but an important clue that he was sleeping in the vicinity of a clock (in an earlier draft, he was in a clock tower, but like I said, I simplified). In this case, providing that information for the DM up front (rather than hinting at it sporadically, as one would to the players) would have been the way to go.

Edit: I'm now also very curious to hear this story :)
 

Gradine

The Elephant in the Room (she/they)
So I got the ingredient list, stared at it, looking for some kind of inspiration. But I kept coming back to one question: why pink?

I was stuck on that for a while. They didn't just have to be socks that were pink. They had to be socks that wouldn't work or make sense to be blue. Or green. Or any other color. No, only pink
socks would work. That's when I thought of rosewater, staining the socks pink. Then I thought, why socks. Why not gloves or pants. That's where the image of the hanging kennel master first generated, as well as the rose motif. The actual implementation of the socks turned out way too 90's adventure game logic for my liking (though the original implementation was pure soup cans). Combining the roses with the wild dogs brought me to the hag and the rose bushes. From there it was mentally running through the synopsis of Beauty and the Beast, sprinkling a dash of Silent Hill to cover the nightmares, and folding in the rest of the ingredients.

The beetles and feat of weakness both changed at the last minute. The original interpretation for the beetles showed up in the aforementioned convoluted solving-the-soup-cans puzzle (drain the nightmare kennel, steal dream Garrett's socks, put them on nightmare Garrett's feet, he's saved a few dogs which are now giant beetles because reasons, ride them as they jump up to the top of the clock tower). It was awful. The feat of weakness involved a nightmare phantasm that played on the PCs weaknesses and fears. I liked this a bit more, but it was too disconnected and too personalized and generally too complex for the size and scope of the adventure. I'm more than happy with how they ended up turning out in the end. The feat of weakness was still kind of weak (to borrow a pun, quite intentionally), but anything I could think of that was a more interesting take was just too complicated, and it at least gave me a reason to devote some words to a character's personality.

Again, I think i just needed to front load some of the more important background details in a clearer manner. I was just too gunshy to that approach, as i watched it sink too many good entries, especially last year.
 

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top