IRON DM 2017 Tournament

Rune

Once A Fool
Welcome, one and all, to the 2017 IRON DM Tournament. Eight contestants enter the arena. One emerges as IRON DM 2017.

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 or adventure synopsis 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 will still be accepted, but with a penalty applied to its word-limit. Late entries that are less than 1 hour late will have their word-limits reduced by 10% (meaning, for example, a first-round entry would have its word-limit reduced from 750 to 675, which is harsher than it looks). Entries that are at least 1 hour late, but less than 1 day late will have their word-limits reduced by 30%. Entries that are at least 1 day late will have their word-limits reduced by 50%. Entries that are at least 2 days late may be disqualified at the discretion of the competitor and judge. Entries that exceed their word-limits will be considered to end once they reach that limit; I will ignore everything after.

Obviously, you really want to avoid being late, especially in the first round, but life happens, and sometimes you just can't make it. In such cases, you should take the extra time (before your next threshold) to polish your entry with your new word-limit in mind. It won't be easy, but you might still win. Even if you don't win, 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 15 years!

Tournament Structure:

Round 1: The Crucible


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: The Refinement

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 Tempering

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 2017!

Scheduling, Discussing, and Spectating:

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

This tournament thread will be used to post the ingredients, the entries, and the judgements for each match. Commentary will also be welcome in that 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: Deuce Traveler (IRON DM 2012, 2015, 2016)
2: Gradine
3: Iron Sky (IRON DM 2009)
4: Slit518
5: MortalPlague (IRON DM 2014)
6: Lwaxy
7: tglassy
8: Yaztromo​

Alternates:

1: Imhotepthewise
2: LongGoneWrier​

Good luck, y'all.

Round 1: The Crucible

Match 1:
Iron Sky vs. Yaztromo. Judgement posted.
Match 2: Gradine vs. Slit518. Judgement posted.
Match 3: MortalPlague vs. tglassy. Judgement posted.
Match 4: Deuce Traveler vs. Lwaxy. Judgement posted.

[sblock=Round 2: The Refinement] Match 1: Deuce Traveler vs. tglassy. Judgement posted.
Match 2: Gradine vs. Iron Sky. Judgement posted. [/sblock]

[sblock=Championship Round: The Tempering]Deuce Traveler vs. Gradine. Judgement posted. [/sblock]
 
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Rune

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

[MENTION=60965]Iron Sky[/MENTION] and [MENTION=6786253]Yaztromo[/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.

Entries that are between 1 and 59 minutes late will have their word-limits reduced to 675. Later entries that are at less than 1 day late will have their word-limits reduced to 525. Entries that are at least 1 day late will have their word-limits reduced to 375. In addition, entries that are at least 2 days late may be disqualified at the discretion of the judge with consent from the match's opposing competitor. Entries that exceed their word-limits will be considered to end once they reach that limit; I will ignore everything after.

Your ingredients are:

Whistling Wind
Mourning Star
Law
Road to Glory
Shallow Grave
Impasse
 


Rune

Once A Fool
Round 1, Match 2: Gradine vs. Slit518

[MENTION=57112]Gradine[/MENTION] and [MENTION=6803713]Slit518[/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.

Entries that are between 1 and 59 minutes late will have their word-limits reduced to 675. Later entries that are at less than 1 day late will have their word-limits reduced to 525. Entries that are at least 1 day late will have their word-limits reduced to 375. In addition, entries that are at least 2 days late may be disqualified at the discretion of the judge with consent from the match's opposing competitor. Entries that exceed their word-limits will be considered to end once they reach that limit; I will ignore everything after.

Your ingredients are:

Withered Husk
Improvised Solution
Internal Strife
Clandestine Plot
Assassination
Fey Mood
 

Slit518

Adventurer
Withered Husk
Improvised Solution
Internal Strife
Clandestine Plot
Assassination
Fey Mood

A Kingdom in Strife –
a D&D 5e Adventure for characters level 1-2​

A nasty epidemic has been sweeping the east coast of Mangonelia, rendering it's citizens a hobbled mess of incoherent babble, and unfulfilled aspirations. The cause of this epidemic is none other than a drug dubbed Fey Mood, for it's euphoric, psychotic, and lethargic effects it has on those who take it.
Nothing gets done for those involved, as they lay in bed, high off of the drug itself, and when they're not high, all they do is crave Fey Mood. They become a danger to themselves, as well as those who pass by. All who come within range of an addict are at risk of panhandling or muggings for junkies to make some quick coin to buy their next fix of Fey Mood.
A kingdom in despair knows what not to do. So in an act of desperation, the majesty calls upon those who wish to serve in quashing this epidemic scourge once-and-for-all from the streets & citizens of Mangonelia.

An Improvised Solution -
The king & queen are holding court, listening to the concerns of Mangonelia's citizens. The chancellor is in charge of hiring hands to help take care of the Fey Mood epidemic plaguing the citizens of Mangonelia.
To prove their worth to Mangonelia's cause, the player's will be tasked with handling a situation in a ghetto just several neighborhoods from castle grounds. If they succeed, they will be rewarded with free range to conduct investigations, arrests, and a reasonable assertion of power to fulfill their duties under royal authority. They will also be rewarded with 200 gold a piece if they are selected to serve.
  • Players are instructed to see if they can find the location of where to buy Fey Mood from inhabitants of a nearby derelict building. Using tactics such as Deception & Persuasion are encouraged, while using tactics like Intimidation & Combat are discouraged.
  • Players will encounter 4 guards posing as junkies, the guards will use the Bandit stat block in case of combat. Armor is hidden under their clothing, weapons are hidden in ease of access places to the “junkies” around the drug den. If combat happens and a guard is dropped to 0 hit points they will reveal themselves to be undercover, testing the would-be-hands to see if they are fit to help aid Mangonelia. Killing a guard after it is revealed that they are working for Mangonelia shows that the party is not a good fit to help in the cleanup.

Internal Strife -
Mangonelia is in much turmoil. Nobles threaten nobles, family turns their back on family, and some even speculate the royal family is going through their own tumultuous times as well in light of recent events. But there are some who seem unaffected by the events of recent times, chancellor Vargueso!
  • The party must investigate rumors of the chancellor's hand in all of this, and what better way than to confront the chancellor himself?
  • All evidence leads to the chancellor's bedroom, the view from his window reveals he is trying to escape by boat in the dark of night.
  • The party must pursue and interrogate the chancellor, he has a personal guard of six who occupy the ship with him. The chancellor is indeed guilty of treason, and had a hand in helping Fey Mood spread throughout the kingdom. An Intimidation or Persuasion check DC 20 will have the chancellor reveal he was helping the queen.

Withered Husk -
The queen's plot to overthrow the kingdom from her husband has turned it all into a Withered Husk, a shell of it's former self. Fey Mood has spread rampant through the kingdom like wildfire, and has infected most of it's citizen's, even the king's own daughter! Her Clandestine Plot & Assassination attempt has come to a halt however, Raegard, captain of the guard had foiled the queen's plot, killing an assassin, but not before suffering a mortal wound himself. With his dying breath, he tells the party of the queen's plans, demanding they stop her for Mangonelia's sake! He tells of an escape route beneath the castle which she hopes to use to escape to far & exotic lands.
  • The party must fight through several groups of paid-off guards (1d4+1) on their way to the queen.
  • The final battle: just before escaping the tunnels, 2d6 guards, and the queen (level 4 sorceress).

Conclusion -
With peace & ordered restored, and the Fey Mood epidemic dwindling, the kingdom will recover in time.
 

Rune

Once A Fool
Round 1, Match 3: MortalPlague vs. tglassy

[MENTION=62721]MortalPlague[/MENTION] and [MENTION=6855204]tglassy[/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.

Entries that are between 1 and 59 minutes late will have their word-limits reduced to 675. Later entries that are at less than 1 day late will have their word-limits reduced to 525. Entries that are at least 1 day late will have their word-limits reduced to 375. In addition, entries that are at least 2 days late may be disqualified at the discretion of the judge with consent from the match's opposing competitor. Entries that exceed their word-limits will be considered to end once they reach that limit; I will ignore everything after.

Your ingredients are:

Feckless Leader
Sea Change
Cold Calculation
Son of a Lich
Infernal Rubric
Falling Sky
 

Yaztromo

Explorer
ROAD TO GLORY

ROAD TO GLORY
An adventure for 4-6 Kobold Heroes​

Ingredients:
Whistling Wind
Mourning Star
Law
Road to Glory
Shallow Grave
Impasse


Any suitable ruleset can be used, but BECMI is recommended, preferrably alongside The Orcs of Thar Gazetteer. Level 3-4 is suggested.

The Heroes come from the mighty Whistling Wind Kobold horde. Like the wind, they roam vaste steppes with their grazers. Their ancestral culture is very low-tech, but their mythology tells about a fabled Kobold civilization of outstanding refinement. Tribesmen desire an honourable death, fighting face to face an honourable enemy: this is the Road to Glory, to reach that fabled place.

Recently, the Mourning Star appeared in the skies and the climate changed, initiating a terrible, neverending winter. New Enemies appeared, with heavy armour and magic wands that shoot from very far away, so the Horde had to fold and fold.

Now the Horde is surrounded in a flatland called, with ironic hindsight, the Shallow Grave. All around it, there are frozen lakes, difficult to spot under the snow. Enemy troops, with heavy armour, broke the ice and sunk in the lakes various times. Now they just wait, shooting at any Kobold that tries escaping. During the impasse, cold is slowly but surely grinding down the Horde.

The Heroes are abducted by a supertechnological flying saucer and taken into an underground base, run on nuclear power.
People in boilersuits, faces covered by breathing masks, control the Heroes with paralyzing rays. They are stripped, completely shaven, carefully washed, disinfected and given strange medicines. They are fed exclusively with tasteless nutribars.

Eventually, the Heroes are put into an aseptic labyrinth, like Guinea pigs. They encounter logic puzzles that force them to work cleverly together to progress, get food, avoid traps and, finally, there is a door that can be opened only by keeping in continuous movement a Kobold-sized hamster wheel. The exit. One Hero will have to stay behind in the wheel, while the others can escape.
Then there is a group fight against a big Troll, requiring collaboration to survive.
Then there is a session against a mechanic spider. It is too fast and powerful and the only escape option is having one hero staying behind, while the others flee.
Typically, the situations calls for a single to sacrifice for the community (or vice versa).
The trials continue until the Heroes either refuse to “play” or only one of them is left standing.

Whether they refuse to “play” or keep going until the last one, eventually the supertechnological “Masters” reveal themselves, congratulating the Heroes and telling them they are worth surviving, like their ancestors (the “survivors” will meet “fallen” heroes, actually still alive).
The “Masters” remove their breathing masks: they look like Kobolds too! However, their teeth are not pointy, like carnivores (and Heroes), but flat, like grazers. In fact, they eat only vegetarian nutribars, trim their hairs carefully and are hygiene fanatics.
This is the “fabled” Kobold civilization, very isolationist and based on a highly scientific and phylosophic approach to life. They could rule the world if they were interested in power, but they just love knowledge and philosophy.
They travel periodically to "underdeveloped" Kobold tribes all over the world, take “samples” (like the Heroes), make “civilization tests” and, occasionally, lend a hand (that's where Kurtulmak's mythic armour comes from, for example).

Having passed “the tests”. the Heroes are allowed to roam freely in the otherwordly underground base: Road to Glory!

When the Heroes mention the dire situation of their Horde, the tech-Kobolds will sigh, as they have a Law that doesn’t allow such dramatic interventions: their “help” can only be a little nudge, but in the tactical map it is very clear that the Enemy troops overpower the Horde. Just a nudge won’t suffice.
The tech-Kobolds will also show the Mourning Star, an asteroid that will cause huge destruction and climate change, passing very close to their planet, but they built a nuclear supermissile that will deflect it. In theory they could use it to destroy the Enemy instead, but the Law doesn’t allow it.

The Heroes have to decide between staying put in this fake heaven, leaving the Horde to a grim destiny, or (hopefully!) using the missile against the Enemy, causing a massive fallout.
The tech-Kobolds, realizing which kind of damage technology can do, decide to send a second missile to the asteroid, effectively saving the planet as intended, and then, stoically, they destroy their own civilization in a blast, removing this source of technological knowledge (and danger) for the world.
 

Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
IronDM Round 1 Submission

The Road to Nowhere

Ingredients:

Whistling Wind
Mourning Star
Law
Road to Glory
Shallow Grave
Impasse

The first adventure in a fantasy campaign.

“The Veteran”: a PC whose backstory includes a battle they barely survived and strive to forget.

Resting during a journey: a small church in ruins. Sunset casts rainbows through panes of spangled stained glass as sharp wind whistles through many-holed support beams. The Veteran's grim insight: this elemental faith is as extinct as the hillfolk who practiced it.

Morning, the Veteran has vanished. Here signs of dragging, there a torn black veil, hoofprints.

Flashback: the party passed through Hymwrought, a town memorable for its sturdy jailhouse and a sudden verbal assault upon the Veteran by a local, Gristlyn the Victor. Famous from her post-war speaking tour and recognizable from statues scattered across the realm, she was the sole survivor of the genocidal Hillwar's last battle a decade past. Once celebrated, now an incoherent stream of threats and harangues launched from within a swath of mourning blacks. Around her neck a ribbon bearing a polished gold Valor Star, one of its six points hacked off.

Now: a hasty return to Hymwrought, the town astir. Gristlyn to be hanged at dawn!

The Sheriff confirms; Gristlyn confessed to murdering the Veteran. The law is strict: murders hang at dawn – no exceptions. As kin and kind to the victim, however, the party has right of inquiry.

Through iron bars Gristlyn whispers confession to the PCs alone – the Veteran lives... for now. Gleaning more is an arduous journey through the mind of a madwoman: guilt, shame, sorrow, vainglory, remorse, and bitterness woven with flashes of fury and weeping.

They need time to get answers, but the Sheriff refuses leniency or delay: “The law is the law. She hangs at dawn.”

Elsewhere, the Veteran awakens from a drugged stupor into a nightmare: the same cathedral where they once awoke buried alive in a heap of burned corpses. Now they lay in a shallow pit, piled under a suffocating heap of charred bones.

Above, cathedral walls reach skyward, burned floors and gutted roof collapsed into the catacomb maze below. Fire-mangled apparitions roam the ruin fighting, arguing, wailing, writhing in spectral fire. Child-ghosts scream in endless terror. The only exit blocked: charred oak doors heaped with bones, ash, and rubble.

The Veteran must survive exposure, hunger, and the dangerous wrath of unpredictable specters that berate, trick, torment, steal, and assault.

GM note: cut back and forth between the cathedral and Hymwrought, making it clear the Veteran will eventually succumb if nothing is done.

In Hymwrought, clues, the most important from each source in bold.

Amidst Gristlyn's raving:
• She fingers the broken prong of her Star endlessly.
• She recognized the Veteran from the final battle.
• A mantra: “My beloved companions! They thought it better to make peace together. Peace is a lie so they all had to die.”
The Victim was interred “at the end of a road that goes nowhere”.

Town rumor:
• Gristlyn has worn black since the war.
• The hillfolk faith was called the Pentiad and worshiped the five elements.
• The cathedrals were the last refuges for the 'folk, destroyed and the last 'folk with them. Fallen last: the Temple of Gales.
The final battle happened in the heart of haunted forest where shrill ghosts wail endlessly.
The hillfolk died to the last child, the road to their now-empty lands useless and overgrown.

Given access to Gristlyn's estate:
• A stallion ridden half-to-death.
• Invisibility and silence potions.
• Sleep-poison darts.
• A huge room containing only a torch and a wagon yoke.
• Heaps of faded posters announcing “Gristlyn the Hero's” next tour appearance.
• A crude map labeled “hidden catacomb entrance”.
Stands of flutewood saplings through which the wind whistles and moans like demented ghosts.

Piecing things together: they must find and take the hill road, reach the haunted forest, then follow the shrill whistles of the flutewood groves at its heart wherein the Cathedral of Gales molders.

The five-pointed star atop its steeple lies jutting from the underbrush while barricaded against the doors sits a rotting wagon packed with empty oil jars. On the wagon bench, the broken-off point of a gold star.

Once inside the party must rescue the Veteran; words of Gristlyn's immanent death will do much to sooth and smooth their passage. Otherwise, the fury of the dead.

Gristlyn's final words: “Exult the hero – she who does willingly that which she will lament until her death.”
 

Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
[sblock=Questions for other competitors]Why is it that no editing pass is ever as effective as the one you obsessively do right after you hit "Post"? Why do things become so clear right after it's too late to change anything?

In a related note, anyone else get a strange mixture of relief and dread when you finally submit?[/sblock]
 

Deuce Traveler

Adventurer
Iron Sky, I always get a feeling of relief after I hit the submit button since the work is finally done. But I always feel dread since my brain switches from a writing to a critical review mode and I'll see all the errors I should have caught before.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
The Death of Oberon
A mystery-fantasy adventure

Withered Husk
Improvised Solution
Internal Strife
Clandestine Plot
Assassination
Fey Mood

Dramatis Personae - The Rude Mechanicals
Quince - Director, looking to go out with a bang and cash out big
Gash Derier - Star actor, playing Oberon
Helena - Playing Titania. Gash's lover, cheating on him with Guiltern
Guiltern - Playing Puck. Wants Gash out of the picture. Very controlling of Helena
Rosantz - Gash's understudy. Helena & Guiltern's fall guy
Thorin Snout - Propmaster, tinker, and apothecary. Recently fascinated by poisons

Act I
Titania & Oberon has played to sold out crowds for months, and is nearing the end of its run. Quince, the director, has hired a local group of mercenaries, ostensibly as members of the chorus, to investigate the sudden illness of its lead actor, Gash Derier. Though he's hidden it well, Gash has been coughing up blood. Quince has noticed a palpable tension within the troupe, and believes foul play is afoot. Gash and his lover, Helena, both dismiss such claims, but also appear to be hiding something.

Act II
The investigators must infiltrate the theatre troupe, joining performances in the chorus and gaining the confidence of its players and crew. Investigators who succeed in gaining the confidence of cast or crew will learn one or more of the following rumors:
*Rosantz, Gash's understudy, is jealous of Gash and wants the chance to play Oberon
*Helena has been cheating on Gash with Guiltern, the actor playing Puck, and everyone knows but Gash
*Quince has been looking to sell his shares in the troupe
*Thorin Snout, the troupe's propmaster, has been locking himself in his workshop lately, demanding crew find him increasingly rare ingredients

Act III
Investigators who earn Gash's trust find that he does believe he's being poisoned, but trusts no one. He suspects Rosantz of poisoning the glass he drinks from in the play's climax. Rosantz helps with the props backstage. In truth, Rosantz looks up to Gash, and rumors of his discontent have been spread by Helena and Guiltern.

Snout, a dwarven tinker and apothecary, has been experimenting with poisons and antidotes. Helena and Guiltern have conspired to poison Gash to death, and have hired Snout to supply the poison. Unbeknownst to them, Snout has also been supplying the antidote to Dash, playing off both to fund his research. Gash's condition is worsening because Snout has run out of a key ingredient: the cocoon of a faerie dragon. Snout has instead been dissolving the husks of mundane insects in his solutions, attempting to make similar adjustments to his poison to keep Gash safe. He does not suspect this to be a problem and will grow defensive if accused. Investigators must grill him hard or search his workshop to uncover the truth. Without the true antidote, the poison will slowly kill Gash.

Act IV
The investigators must research the location of nearby nests of faerie dragons. Research or consultation with a sage will reveal that a larval faerie dragon has made its nest in the dangerous Parnitha Woods. A safer path around the woods allows the investigators to reach their goal in six days; a direct path through the woods would take only four. Depending on how long the investigation has taken, closing night could be fast approaching.

The investigators find the newly matured faerie dragon in the woods. It acts flighty and aloof, but is hoping to be entertained. It will part with its empty cocoon willingly if they answer three convoluted riddles, or, failing that, bring it three difficult to find ingredients within the woods.

Act V
The poison has not acted fast enough, and Helena and Guiltern hatch a new scheme. In the week approaching closing night, Helena convinces Rosantz to run a surprise change to the play's plot by Quince: in the play’s climax, a suddenly deranged Titania stabs Oberon, killing him. Quince will be hailed as a genius for this shocking turn in the otherwise familiar play. Quince, blinded by greed and prestige, agrees, keeping the change a secret from Gash so his reaction will be "authentic". In truth, Helena plans to stab and kill him with a real knife, and blame Rosantz for switching out the prop knife. Helena is having second thoughts the night of, however, and might be convinced to spoil the plot. If that happens, an enraged Guiltern will decide to take matters into his own hands. The investigators must stop this assassination attempt and provide Gash the appropriate antidote in order to save him.
 

MortalPlague

Adventurer
Legacy

Ingredients:
Feckless Leader
Sea Change
Cold Calculation
Son of a Lich
Infernal Rubric
Falling Sky


Background:

In search of power and legacy, Barras Crole became a lich. His son Solis was the commander of his wyvern riders, a band known as the 'Falling Sky'. The wyvern riders rained down chaos and destruction, swooping from the clouds to burn fields and raid caravans. They made their lair in a mountaintop fortress, inaccessible except by a long climb up a sheer cliff.

The last few months, Barras has become wise to his son’s weakness. Solis is not the capable leader his father imagined him to be. The lich has taken steps to eliminate him. It would be a waste to simply kill the whelp. Instead, Barras made a pact with the Archdevil of Cold, promising his son’s soul in exchange for an infernal commander for the Falling Sky. And he has hired the PCs to enact the ritual unawares.


Adventure:

The PCs meet a well-dressed lady who is secretly an agent of Barras Crole. She offers an opportunity to slay Commander Solis of the Falling Sky. She gives them a thin leather bound tome written in infernal. The tome has diagrams showing how to bypass the magical wards and alarms of the Falling Sky’s fortress.

The Falling Sky dwell in a mountaintop fortress, with only sheer cliffs to reach it. But with the tome in hand, a secret passage can be found. Scrawling the right rune on the right rock opens a tunnel, which leads up, through the mountain, towards the fortress.

There are a series of wards that must be deactivated before the fortress can be breached, each with a certain rune to break it. Once this is done, the PCs will be able to get inside without detection.

These last months, the Falling Sky has become a shadow of its former self; their commander hardly sets foot outside his quarters. His men wonder if he has gone mad, or fallen ill. Some of the wyvern riders are content to just drink and gamble, while others fight and brawl in the great halls.

The PCs find Commander Solis in his chambers with half a bottle of wine remaining. His walls are decorated with trophies of past battles, but he is halfway drunk, and bereft of armor and weapon.

“Did my father send you? Has he tired of me?”

Should the PCs pause, Solis will tell them of his father, the powerful lich Barras Crole. Solis has become weary of all the violence done in his father’s name, and will welcome death. But the PCs have been deceived; the infernal tome they have been following did bypass the wards, but it also arranged the runes in a ritual circle. Should Solis’ blood be spilled, his soul will be claimed by the Archdevil of Cold, sealing a bargain made by the lich that will place an ice devil in command of the Falling Sky.


What Happens Next?

The revelation that they have been hired by a lich should cast some doubt on the proceedings. The PCs can kill Solis, which will summon an ice devil, who will attack the PCs on sight. The PCs can leave Solis be. Or they can sway Solis to their cause; he has misgivings about his deeds, and is drinking away his sorrows. But he knows where his father can be found, and he could be persuaded to turn against Barras. He will be particularly swayed if any of the PCs suggest it could lead to his redemption.


A Note On Arcana:

If any of the PCs are well trained in the arcane arts or in summoning rituals, or if they speak infernal, they may recognize the runes for what they are. This should be a challenging task, though as the PCs place the runes, it will become easier to recognize the pattern. This may make the PCs aware that something is not right before the even reach Solis. This is not a problem; they will presumably still try for Solis, perhaps imagining him to be responsible for the runes. And upon meeting him, he will tell them about his father.
 

Rune

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

Participating in the first match of a tournament is always difficult, even for seasoned veterans. For someone who's never competed before at all, it can be especially so. And, for an entry to be submitted so quickly on top of that, (presumably because this is just a game and real life takes precedence) – I have to respect the effort.

I want to make clear that I think the author of "ROAD TO GLORY" (henceforth referred to as "GLORY") shows a whole lot of potential (and I'll back that statement up, later). I wholeheartedly believe that. And I need to say it up front, because this is going to sound harsh.

I really want to like this adventure. Its skeleton is intriguing and I think, with work, it could be quite a fun adventure. A whole lot of work. After my first run-through, I found myself coming up with a bunch of ways to fix it. That's a good thing! It means I was inspired – and that's probably the most important thing for an adventure to do! I don't want to give up on this adventure.

But there are so many structural problems, it might just be easier to take the basic ideas and start from scratch. I'm not even sure where to begin.

I guess I'll start with the linearity. I've said before (more than once) that linearity in an adventure is not necessarily a bad thing (but is inherently limiting for both the players and the DM). This assumes, however, that the players at least have the illusion of impactful choices with meaningful consequences. If you take those away, as "GLORY" consistently does, the PCs are irrelevant and the players have no reason to even go through the motions. And this makes life HARDER on the DM, because that's when players are most prone to go off the rails. Or rage-quit.

Let's look at some specifics:

First, the abduction of the PCs. This is presented as a thing that will happen, and that's that. As an adventure hook (I guess? It's not entirely clear), it works, I suppose, but it could have been so much more if handled differently.

For one thing, it would have made a much cooler mid-adventure twist than a starting point, and it would have solved a bunch of other problems with the adventure, too. A lot of the background that would otherwise have to be relayed as exposition would instead become adventure for the PCs to play through. The PCs would be more grounded in the history. They would have a reason to care about the Enemy. And, significantly, they could have the chance to eke out some victory while fighting against their inevitable abduction (although what form that would take, I don't know).

Once on the flying saucer/in the underground base, the PCs are automatically captured and forced to run through a pre-ordained course of action. Worse, every single sacrifice they make along the way is pointless; at the end, no matter how it ends, there are no consequences at all. (And never mind that a lot of the tests could probably pretty easily have different solutions.)

The reveal of the techie-kobolds just happens. But are the players even going to notice the details? Or care? Why should they care? Better to sprinkle those clues along the way and give the players a chance to piece things together on their own. Give them a reason to be invested in the discovery!

And then there's the big one. The PCs are finally confronted with an interesting dilemma (which would be more interesting if the adventure started before the abduction, by the way), in the form of blasting either the Enemy or the astroid with a nuke. Excellent!

But then, the technobolds fire a second missile at the asteroid anyway? Never mind (for now) the questions this raises – it completely nullifies the only meaningful consequence the PCs are likely to be confronted with! So frustrating!

Speaking of questions, "GLORY" raises a lot of them. And not the kind that lead to further adventures, but the kind that make things confusing and difficult to run. I assume with more time spent things would have been clearer, so I'm genuinely disappointed that that couldn't happen. Because, as I said before, I really do like the underpinnings. But it is often very difficult to sift through the details and figure out who is doing what (or, even, who is whom). It took some effort, for example, to even figure out that the Enemy is not the same group as the Ur-kobolds (and who are they, anyway? Did they come from the Mourning Star?). Or, how about some details for the puzzles?

More problematically, however, are the places that just don't seem to make sense. Like, why is a culture that glorifies dying in combat retreating from combat? If they truly believe in a Valhalla-esque afterlife, why should they fear getting cut down by magic wands?

What, exactly is the Law? What does it allow? What does it forbid? What's the point? The tests and the abductions rule out some sort of Prime Directive-thing. So what is it?

And, on a related note, if the PCs can fire one missile, and the super-kobolds can fire a second missile, why can't the PCs just fire the second one, too?

And why do the nuke-happy kobolds nuke themselves? Couldn't they evacuate in their flying saucer(s)? Even if (for some unexplained reason) they have to leave a bunch of tech behind, couldn't they remotely nuke the base? Or, at least, just leave a skeleton crew behind to do it?

Moving on to "The Road to Nowhere" (henceforth, "Nowhere"). Okay. Basically, this looks like a fun adventure. A little tricky to run, perhaps, but with a group willing to buy into its unusual format, yeah. I can see it.

Some things do concern me. It is a little disjointed in places. Some of the clues seem a little obscure for the time-pressure the adventure wants. The underlying themes seem a bit muddled (or maybe it's me after spending so much effort on the first part of this judgement!). All in all, though, I think it works. In particular, the clues are plentiful; the PCs can afford to miss a few!

And it's got great atmosphere!

The ingredients, though? Comparison time:

A number of the ingredients in "GLORY" were very weak in the sense that they were basically just names of things that could have been named other things. Even the ones that had some relevance for the PCs tended to be strained in that capacity. In contrast, the ingredients in "Nowhere" are generally (with one exception) more subtle, fairly-well inter-connected, and directly relevant to the PCs' part in the adventure. And, Importantly, far less of a stretch.

I'll try to be brief.

Whistling Wind. Naming the kobold Horde after a natural phenomenon that resembles their lifestyle (as "GLORY" does) is weak enough, but the wind doesn't even whistle, does it? How could it, on the plains?

Meanwhile, in "Nowhere," the ingredient is a reoccurring clue meant to guide (most of) the PCs to the Veteran. As such, it works. As atmospheric color, it's nicely creepy!

Mourning Star. it took me a few times through "Nowhere" to be sure, but this is undoubtedly Gristlyn. Certainly her (very angry) mourning is important to the adventure (although not quite clear enough how the Veteran is connected). But her stardom doesn't seem particularly relevant. And, with so many other relevant stars in the adventure, it's a little confusing.

In "GLORY," similar issues crop up. Even overlooking the stretch of calling an asteroid a star (Meteor? Comet? Sure, those would have worked.), it never explicitly causes any mourning! As near as I can tell, it merely makes things increasingly difficult for the Horde. That said, its relevance to the PCs is clear, so that's something.

Law. This one is obviously important in "GLORY"; it contributes fundamentally to the most significant decision the PCs will have to make. I really wish I knew more about it, but I won't rehash the topic.

However, this is unquestionably the best ingredient in "Nowhere." Not only does it provide the framework for the adventure to hang on (if you'll pardon the expression), it also has a built-in sense of urgency.

Road to Glory. As a metaphor for going to the Warrior's afterlife in "GLORY," it works, but the relevance of that is undercut significantly throughout the adventure – not only because the Horde doesn't seem to follow it, but also because the PCs follow it incidentally, without regard to their actions. This seems like a really big missed opportunity; I would definitely want to find ways to emphasize it, were I to run the adventure.

In "Nowhere," the road is obvious, and I feel like it is intended to tie into a great underlying theme, but I'm just not quite grasping it. Glory is meaningless? The road to glory leads nowhere? It leads to death? Whose glory are we even talking about, here? Gristlyn's? The Veteran's? The other PCs'? The ghosts'? Of those, Gristlyn seems most likely, but it feels like I'm missing something and I can't quite figure out whether or not there's actually anything to be found.

Shallow Grave. In "Nowhere," this ingredient is central to the adventure and directly relevant to the PCs. And, as with most of the others, really helps establish the tone of things.

Even so, I like the one in "GLORY" more. I would really love to get the PCs involved in a battle, here. As with "Nowhere," the imagery is great and, added to that, the potential for a tactically intriguing battle could be very fun. Regrettably, as written, it seems (once again, I can't be sure) as if the PCs don't enter the adventure until its relevance is passed.

Impasse. As this is closely related to the last ingredient in "GLORY," I don't have much else to say about it; it works, but only if the PCs get involved (and then it complicates things nicely).

Yet – I can't seem to find this one in "Nowhere," at all, even after multiple re-reads. A casualty of space and time, perhaps?

So..."GLORY" did not do too badly with the ingredients, when taken as a whole. They're actually one of the reasons I see potential in the author. The ones that don't work really don't work, but the ones that almost do have really sound reasons for it!

"Nowhere" uses it's ingredients better in total, though, and the adventure is far more solid. Iron Sky will advance to Round 2.

Yaztromo, I'm sorry that this first judgement is so rough. I really am! I promise you, you're better at this than my critique makes it seem! You have what counts, and, if you hone it, I have no doubt that your next attempt will be vastly improved.

If I might offer you some advice to that end, though, it would be this:

First, don't rush things if you don't have to (if you have to, you have to, of course). A lot of the problems could have been polished out, given the opportunity.

Second, and far more importantly, trust the players with decisions. Let the consequences matter! Your job as a DM (or as a writer for a DM) is not so much to tell a story; it's to facilitate the other players' telling of a story. This gaming-philosophy has all sorts of implications you can follow that I'm sure could really help you bring out those awesome ideas you've clearly got going on.

I'll say it again: you've got what counts.
 
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Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
[sblock=Self-critique before reading Rune's judgement]This one fell together remarkably easily, though whether I executed on it or not, I'm not sure.

I began with my usual listing of every possible definition of each word looking for interesting connections. At first, I looked at Whistling Wind as some sort of steam-powered wind-up machine. Combined with Shallow Grave meaning a body dumped in the ocean and a vision of steampunk pirates danced in my head... but couldn't make the rest click.

The next connection was Shallow Grave as in something just barely carved into stone, which I tried to combine with the Mourning Star (a star engraved somewhere) but couldn't figure out where to go from there.

The final click was Law and Impasse - some sort of law that was had the players at an impasse. Next was the other meaning of Impass as a road that doesn't go anywhere which seemed a natural fit with Road to Glory.

So who was going for glory? The Star of course, but why were they mourning? Everything fell into place - in my mind at least - from there.

As soon as I hit post, of course, I immediately saw a couple issues, first among them that I had two "sole survivors". I had originally written that the Veteran thought they were the sole survivor and went far away, but that somehow got edited out.

Second, the last battle wasn't actually a battle. Again, originally there was a bit more about how the realm chose to just proclaim it a battle at Gristlyn's word that she was the only survivor of the battle to put and end to an unpopular war, but that got lost in the edit machine.

Third, if the Veteran had been there when the cathedral burned, how did they get out the first time if there was no way out the second?

Time to read the judgment to see if those misses cost me the match.[/sblock]

[sblock=After reading Rune's judgement]I have tendency to want to use the less-obvious meanings of words, to be clever or to do something different from my opponent, or maybe just a general personality trait.

Impasse being a road that doesn't go anywhere (the civilization it leads to having been erased) seemed clear in my mind, but I get now that it actually does now go somewhere since it leads the party to the cathedral. I originally had a legal battle with the sheriff to even be able to speak with Gristlyn and/or get an extension on the execution, but I had to cut it and, with it, my more obvious (legal) Impasse. I hoped the road would cut it and it clearly didn't.

The glory was Gristlyn who became a renowned hero (complete with statues and speaking tours) after surviving the last "battle". Hence the road led to the last battle where she got her glory.

I had more details with Gristlyn shouting something like "I'm the only survivor!" at the Veteran then abducting him to make it true, but that got lost in the snipping.

I was somewhat worried at what I thought of as "a subtle weaving" of the ingredients. Elegantly subtle where you look back and go "ah, I see how they did that!" is great. Subtle where you're justifying your decisions to the judge that didn't see them at all after barely squeaking out a win is probably too subtle.[/sblock]

Thanks [MENTION=67]Rune[/MENTION] for judging and [MENTION=6786253]Yaztromo[/MENTION] for stepping up to the plate. I dug the PCs as moral lab rats angle in your entry and, like Rune, dug the nuke dilemma and saw a lot of potential in the adventure.

I hope you come back next year; as frustrating as it can be to lose these (I've lost at least half-a-dozen) my writing and adventure design have improved tenfold from the experience.

Now I just need to step up my game a bit for the next match!
 

Rune

Once A Fool
[MENTION=6855204]tglassy[/MENTION], if you are able to submit your Round 1, Match 3 entry before 11 PM Eastern, it will have a word-limit of 675 words. If you cannot, but are able to submit your entry before 10 PM Eastern tomorrow night, it will have a word-limit of 525 words. If submit an entry later than that, it will have a word-limit of 375 words.

Good luck!
 

Rune

Once A Fool
[sblock=Self-critique before reading Rune's judgement]This one fell together remarkably easily, though whether I executed on it or not, I'm not sure.

I began with my usual listing of every possible definition of each word looking for interesting connections. At first, I looked at Whistling Wind as some sort of steam-powered wind-up machine. Combined with Shallow Grave meaning a body dumped in the ocean and a vision of steampunk pirates danced in my head... but couldn't make the rest click.

The next connection was Shallow Grave as in something just barely carved into stone, which I tried to combine with the Mourning Star (a star engraved somewhere) but couldn't figure out where to go from there.

The final click was Law and Impasse - some sort of law that was had the players at an impasse. Next was the other meaning of Impass as a road that doesn't go anywhere which seemed a natural fit with Road to Glory.

So who was going for glory? The Star of course, but why were they mourning? Everything fell into place - in my mind at least - from there.

As soon as I hit post, of course, I immediately saw a couple issues, first among them that I had two "sole survivors". I had originally written that the Veteran thought they were the sole survivor and went far away, but that somehow got edited out.

Second, the last battle wasn't actually a battle. Again, originally there was a bit more about how the realm chose to just proclaim it a battle at Gristlyn's word that she was the only survivor of the battle to put and end to an unpopular war, but that got lost in the edit machine.

Third, if the Veteran had been there when the cathedral burned, how did they get out the first time if there was no way out the second?

Time to read the judgment to see if those misses cost me the match.[/sblock]

[sblock=After reading Rune's judgement]I have tendency to want to use the less-obvious meanings of words, to be clever or to do something different from my opponent, or maybe just a general personality trait.

Impasse being a road that doesn't go anywhere (the civilization it leads to having been erased) seemed clear in my mind, but I get now that it actually does now go somewhere since it leads the party to the cathedral. I originally had a legal battle with the sheriff to even be able to speak with Gristlyn and/or get an extension on the execution, but I had to cut it and, with it, my more obvious (legal) Impasse. I hoped the road would cut it and it clearly didn't.

The glory was Gristlyn who became a renowned hero (complete with statues and speaking tours) after surviving the last "battle". Hence the road led to the last battle where she got her glory.

I had more details with Gristlyn shouting something like "I'm the only survivor!" at the Veteran then abducting him to make it true, but that got lost in the snipping.

I was somewhat worried at what I thought of as "a subtle weaving" of the ingredients. Elegantly subtle where you look back and go "ah, I see how they did that!" is great. Subtle where you're justifying your decisions to the judge that didn't see them at all after barely squeaking out a win is probably too subtle.[/sblock]

Thanks [MENTION=67]Rune[/MENTION] for judging and [MENTION=6786253]Yaztromo[/MENTION] for stepping up to the plate. I dug the PCs as moral lab rats angle in your entry and, like Rune, dug the nuke dilemma and saw a lot of potential in the adventure.

I hope you come back next year; as frustrating as it can be to lose these (I've lost at least half-a-dozen) my writing and adventure design have improved tenfold from the experience.

Now I just need to step up my game a bit for the next match!

I'm going to split the difference with you on the subtlety thing. I appreciate creative (and/or obscure) interpretations of the ingredients. I try to select ingredients that are well-suited for such. Had I set the judgement aside for another day before wrapping it up, I might have caught that. That said, it was a bit of a stretch, anyway; as you note, it can't accurately be called a road to nowhere if it goes somewhere. This is where I was getting lost trying to pick up on your theme.

I'll also add that, much as I appreciate subtlety (when I catch it!), I've found out the hard way (and often enough) that hanging your hopes on it will often get you burned.
 

tglassy

Adventurer
To Catch a Fallen Star

Feckless Leader
Sea Change
Cold Calculation
Son of a Lich
Infernal Rubric
Falling Sky

Background
Fifty years ago, a wizard by the name of Korlanis found an ancient text that detailed the means to call down a Star from the heavens, which would be a source power great enough to rival the gods. The process to do so was lengthy, and often involved the corruption and destruction of the souls of the innocent.

Thirty years passed, as the wizard resided near a small village, preying on the population. He was human. He was getting old. As if in answer to his mortality, his infernal book showed him how to become a Lich, and he gladly used the opportunity to become undead, to continue his work.

Having exhausted the compatible people of his village, he began resorting to taking people from neighboring villages, something that did not go unnoticed. Adventurers were sent to find out what had happened, and eventually he was discovered and defeated, his experiments halted...but not ended.

Twenty years passed, and people are once again disappearing. The experiment has continued.


Hook
This adventure is for 5th edition, PC’s level 1-4, though it could work for any setting and any system. The adventurers are likely hired to look into the recent disappearances. At least one person one of the PC’s knew was one of the people who have disappeared recently.

Part One
As the adventurers enter the town, they are met with a tired people. Most alive today remember the crazed Lich, though most will not divulge information regarding the Lich. They are mistrustful of outsiders, and openly hostile to magic users. They will not attack them, but refuse to interact with them unless given no choice.

There are a few NPC’s that they could talk to. The Mayor of the village, Mayor Knisty, is a horridly incompetent man who insists the disappearances have nothing to do with the old Lich. He can give some of the background information regarding the Lich.

Another NPC is Ms. Prylia, the owner and bartender at The Blue Branch Tavern. She is welcoming of the group, introducing them to her adopted son, Lorcan, who works for her. She is amiable, and will talk about the Lich in hushed tones, though she has more reverence for the Lich than fear. Her son avoids people, but unlike others in town, is fascinated by anyone who can do magic.

The last NPC is a beggar woman who tells a tale of how the Lich had loved a young woman before delving into undeath, though no one in town believes her. She speaks more of the horrible experiments the Lich subjected the people to.

Part Two
Asking around eventually points to the old rundown mansion at the edge of town. The house is surrounded by a subtle aura that makes people want to steer clear. As the group explores the upper floors, they encounter a number of restless spirits, mostly ghosts and poltergeists. These are the spirits of the many who had died here.

A secret door can be found leading to the basement, which opens into a cave network. More spirits, and even a few zombies, meet the adventurers before finding Lorcan in an anti chamber, preparing to sacrifice a person on the alter. He informs them that he is Korlanis’ son and rightful heir, and he will finish what his father has started.

The group is attacked by more monsters, and the ritual will be completed in three rounds. If the heroes do not stop it by then, the sacrifice dies and Lorcan begins to laugh as he starts to glow with power, but that laughter is broken with screams of pain as he is overcome and disappears in a flash of light. His fate is up to the DM.

If he is stopped, the group finds the book he was reading is none other than the Book of Vile Darkness. What they do with the book is up to them.




Sent from my iPad using EN World
 

Yaztromo

Explorer
Thanks @Rune for judging and @Yaztromo for stepping up to the plate. I dug the PCs as moral lab rats angle in your entry and, like Rune, dug the nuke dilemma and saw a lot of potential in the adventure.

I hope you come back next year; as frustrating as it can be to lose these (I've lost at least half-a-dozen) my writing and adventure design have improved tenfold from the experience.

What I learnt is that writing a 750 words adventure with six ingredients and to the kind of standard required takes much longer than one hour (the synthesis work is simply overwhelming and deciding what to cut and what to leave is a cruel exercise that needs plenty of reviews) and at the moment I don't have that kind of time available in my life.
Maybe in the future this will change, but with hindsight I shouldn't have participated this year. The only benefit is that, by participating, I'll be able to read great adventures written by others (surely in more than one hour).
 
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Rune

Once A Fool
What I learnt is that writing a 750 words adventure with six ingredients and to the kind of standard required takes much longer than one hour (the synthesis work is simply overwhelming and deciding what to cut and what to leave is a cruel exercise that needs plenty of reviews) and at the moment I don't have that kind of time available in my life.
Maybe in the future this will change, but with hindsight I shouldn't have participated this year. The only benefit is that, by participating, I'll be able to read great adventures written by others (surely in more than one hour).

Well, I, for one, am glad you did participate. It is true that you may not have time to compete in just an hour (although that's how long the first tournaments were – alas, no records exist from that far back!). I know that's gotta be frustrating, because I can tell that you've got more in you. But I was genuine when I said I was inspired; I am. And, hence, I am better for having read your entry.

Said that, I don't believe that having an adventure with apparent moral questions that give either way a positive result is a real issue (for example, if one sacrifies for the group or if the group sacrifies for one...) as the characters have a "live" view of the adventure and don't know what would happen if they did the other choice (and this is true in real life too: who knows how many careful decision I have taken under big stress and if I picked another option nothing changed anyway - is destiny cheating me? is it unfair?).
It is more interesting focussing on making the adventure pleasurable and challenging (even if just apparently). Don't tell me I'm cheating the players, because roleplay is "a cheat" from the beginning to the end (like theatre is a cheat: everybody knows that the actors are not really suiciding themselves, but still enjoy the play if they do it right).
If the players read the adventure before playing it, they are worse cheaters as they spoil their own fun. Adventures are made to be played, not to be read. ;)

Fair enough, if that works for you. It's just that, were I a player who made a choice to sacrifice my character for some reason and then my character was immediately brought back to life with no repurcussions, I would wonder what the point was. I'm not saying those repurcussions have to be death – or even bad – but something has to change! (In fact, this very thing did happen in one of my games back in the 3.5 era. The elven paladin sacrificed her life to old age in order to open the final door in a barbed devil's lair. She did come back later, but not as an elf. Rather, as something more angelic.
 
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Lwaxy

Cute but dangerous
Maybe in the future this will change, but with hindsight I shouldn't have participated this year. The only benefit is that, by participating, I'll be able to read great adventures written by others (surely in more than one hour).

Well, I have little time this year either, but contests like this one wake me up from the usual routine of running games, and really, the worst that can happen is you don't make it to the next round. But you still get all those ideas from the ingredients - and other people's ingredients. For me this is not about "being better" than the other contestants, but to challenge myself. So there's nothing to lose and a lot to gain.
 

Dungeon Delver's Guide

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