IRON DM 2020 Tournament Thread


I love gnomes and death that cheats, personally.
My irrational dislike of gnomes is a minor flaw in an otherwise completely healthy psyche. I don't know why I dislike them, but there it is. :)

I don't hold it against other people that they don't share this quirk with me.

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Moderator Emeritus
Below is a visual representation of how the tournament stands (with the caveat that the second round match-ups may change based on availability of scheduling).



I plan on living forever. Or die trying.
I definitely would have loved to have had some more space to let things breathe, but such is the nature of a word limit, and a competition has got to have limits.

Thanks for the fierce competition, @Neurotic!
I obviously edited too much out :)
@FitzTheRuke I'm glad my first entry was good enough for someone who is on active duty as a DM :) Congratulations!
I'm only now restarting DMing after more than 10 years as a player. With my work team no less! Good team.

I really like explicit definition of criteria - we could train an AI model on all the years of Iron DM and just run it pair by pair (or on all stories at the same time) :p

I'll be back for more next year.
@Wicht - this is by no means an attempt to change your oppinion, Fitz won fair and square. I'm explaining what is lost to editing for some future readers.

There was the cursed brother, of course, but there was a part where he calms down only in presence of the brother (and yes, marine was my weakest by far ingredient). The party went in, were overmatched and ran. They encountered 4 exit problem and chose to go at it their way. The marine was lucky and made it out. The rest died. The brother cheated death by offering himself as a moon guardian = werewolf.

As for death in moon goddess temple, obviously she is goddes of the moon, dreams and death :)

The stinky lava isn't just a minor game element - it is slow, but it will fill the temple and kill anyone still inside. It gives the DM a chance to decide how much treasure to give to the players and the players have a decision: run immediately or take the treasure and have less time to get out.

Finally, the encounters were left intentionally vague - whether more riddles, monsters or traps this is on DMs running it. The rules don't specify I have to specify every encounter (OK, maybe I do complain a little :) ) Not to say that Fitz didn't deserve it, his IS more polished one and I like the story about werewolf being confused because of Ettins heads, genius. I was considering why mine was befuddled and only come to possibilities: it is always changing as he passses different corridors...or he needs to attack, but this is his brother and he fights within himself. I went with the first one, it seemed fitting with the monster just wondering around.

The puzzles are meant to be solved - if you don't you don't progress - it is the same as when playing an adventure you miss half the treasure and are underpowered at the boss encounter. Maybe you didn't check for the hidden safe, maybe you just rolled poorly, but when you burn to death fighting that salamander boss, you will surely regret not having a ring of fire protection that was sitting in a secret compartment in the desk drawer.

In my case, the coins are kinda obvious so you always get to death. Whether you progress or not...well, the clues on the wall took quite a lot of words even in this short version to point the boys and girls in the right direction. And some thinking IS required, I may be old school, but there shouldn't always be the way forward. You can fail the dungeon. You can fail in the quest. You can NOT save the brother. You can even come to the end and cast different ritual, thus taking something for yourself instead of lifting the curse.
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Looking forward to seeing you next time around @Kobold Stew - i really enjoyed reading your entry.

Can't argue with most of the comments on my entry, @Gradine picked up all my little fudges and dodges with laserlike focus! I knew my gnomes probably weren't quite rampaging enough (Lobdiddle was, but he's only one guy, and the ingredient called for gnomes plural...), that my curse probably wasn't quite disease-like or contagious enough to be truly pestilential, and that my use of the 'civilised magic' ingredient was a bit questionably abstract. And yeah, I didn't like that the first part of the ritual would succeed regardless of player actions either - if i'd had more wordcount or was running this in real game i probably would have given the PCs some sort of bonus or advantage in the final confrontation if they'd succeeded in forcing the gnomes to do a bargain-basement version of the ritual without them.

Interesting to read the comment about the triple cross - I did actually consider using some sort of tripartite crucifix or something in the entry - in a Buffy scenario, vampires and crosses are a very easy fit of course, but it would have meant somehow introducing vampires into an entry that was way too complicated and had too many antagonists for the word limit already.


Once A Fool
Round 1, Match 4: CleverNickName vs Iron Sky

@CleverNickName and @Iron Sky, 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. Be aware: if you include descriptions of your ingredients with the ingredients list, those descriptions will count against your word-limit! Entries that exceed their word-limits will be considered to end once they reach that limit; everything after will be ignored.

The judges will be using to ensure that our counts are consistent.

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. 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.

Your ingredients are:

Endless Nightmare
Final Form
Simple Truth
Haunted Hospital
Princess of the Apocalypse
Missing Puzzle Piece

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