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.
 

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