IRON DM 2021 Tournament

FitzTheRuke

Legend
So I went with a relatively linear plot with my final entry. I suspect I will be thoroughly destroyed on 'bear necessities' - I seriously cannot BELIEVE there is no faction, vehicle, monster, or troop type in Warhammer with a name that references bears, so i had to play silly word games. Oh well.
I really liked your clever word game, myself. I can understand why you'd struggle with bear necessities spelled that way.
 

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Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I wasn't expecting a 40K entry at all, never mind in the first round. So kudos for that. I'm a 40K nut from back in the day, so all thumbs are up. That's precisely two thumbs if the Inquisition is asking...
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
So here are my brief thoughts on the entry of @Wicht

Love the post-apocalyptic Australian vibe. Also the whole druggy use of ghost mushrooms (when I saw that ingredient, that is totally the way I would've gone. Great use of the ingredients for the plot. I mean really great.

It's evocative- I also like the competing factions approach and that there are multiple issues that must be dealt with. Given the word limit, it's impressive that this feels more like the sketch to a mini-campaign or a post-apolcalyptic Isle of Dread than a one-shot.


So here are my brief thoughts on the entry of @humble minion

As others have said ... no one expects the Spanish Inquisition ... Warhammer 40k! Unfortunately, while I am knowledgeable about WFRPG, I long ago decided to spend my money on expensive booze instead of a 40k mini addiction, so I'm not as familiar with this lore.

Now that I've read it, it seems really cool and the type of commando mission I'd love to be a part of! And the switch to bear (carry) necessities is nifty use of the term that is surprising and fits perfectly.

I do feel like I'm missing something because there are terms I'm not familiar with (the sentence, "If Secretbearer is a Blood Angel, Target may have succumbed to the Black Rage; a Space Wolf might suffer the Wulfen curse, etc (broken angel)" is nearly impenetrable to me). But I would totally play this and totally kill that ork weirdboy, Rugluk, all his spore minions, and the dang tree!


So here are my brief thoughts on the entry of @el-remmen

First ... bold choice with the Superhero adventure! Way back in the day, I used to love the occasional Superhero TTRPG (I was fond of TSR Marvel FASERIP), but the issue I usually had was that it was hard to find good adventures for it. And this isn't a good setup it's a great setup- I really like the "attack by villains, stuck in civilian clothes" approach. Creates a great complication from the beginning. And the use of ingredients is spot-on as well (I notice we both went with "reality breach" as ending the world .... too many Marvel Movies?).

Overall, this is a spectacular adventure. The only (slight) concern I might have is that you have this amazing and detailed adventure that feels like a setup to the actual campaign (Molay breaking the Dogs out of prison and becoming the PC's nemesis). But a nemesis has to start somewhere, and I love the way that the whole setup with the Dogs is just a subterfuge for the real Big Bad- very on point for a Superhero adventure!
 
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Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Judgment for Round 1, Match 2: Snarf Zagyg vs el-remmen
First off, sorry for limited participation so far; love Iron DM and wanted to stay involved but heavy RL stuff has hit that's taking up much of my time (and devouring my sleep). I'm super punchy from the not sleeping much the last few weeks, so if I'm rambling or lose coherency, that's my excuse.

That said, a couple notes about how I'm going to try to judge: my goal is a series of readthroughs with different foci and metrics for success.

First, I'll skim it like a casual reader looking for basic comprehension and cool factors that would make me want to get it if it were a published adventure.

Second, I'll read through it as though I'm a GM planning to run it, focusing on how easy it would be to run, keep track of, and whether it would be fun for me to GM.

Last, I'll analyze it as an IronDM judge focusing on ingredient identification, strength, fit, irreplacability, and cleverness.

When I competing in IronDM I usually focus on originality, theme, and "coolness" over mechanism. I then get to see my "sweet" adventures lose to solidly playable, straightforward entries with less flash and more function. When judging, I see why I lose to playabilty-focused adventures. Make an economical vehicle with a fresh coat of paint, not a rocket-powered bicycle that will maybe blast moonwards but more likely blast a smoking crater. I.e. solid and playable trumps exciting and flashy. (Note to self for next year: remember this).

Let's start with @Snarf Zagyg and Hail Caesar.

Right off the bat, I ended up shaving 8 words off the end due to the adventure summary pushing it over the word limit. I copy-pasted into a .doc and deleted the last 8 words without reading them to avoid them effecting my judgment. Hopefully that doesn't hurt the conclusion too much.

Right off the bat, a gamble: knowledge of movies. Though I've seen a lot of movies, pop culture is probably my single weakest area of knowledge (intentionally). Hopefully pulling me as a judge doesn't shoot you in the foot.

Dropped Thoughts During Skim
Had me at "timequakes". Lost me quickly after.

I actually know these actors, but other references are lost on me.
That plan doesn't seem simple in almost any way, unless you mean "simple" as in "created by a simpleton". I'm guessing it's the latter.

"Bay has control over the Knight and the Dogs..." what Knight? Assuming this is a reference to the Transformers (whose movies I haven't watched after hearing they're terrible). And order them to stand down from what? Adapting Shakespeare?

"The Coen's struggled to get financing for their film..." What film? Isn't the movie Michael Bay's? Were they already making one but were coerced by Bay to do his version? Did Bay rewrite theirs? Losing the plot here...

Since I'm losing track of what the players are supposed to be doing, who they are, and how they got to 1983 in all the background and character motivations, I'm going to skim ahead to the end then circle back.

Chuckled at the few references I got. Wordcount ate the last thing they need to do to fix the timeline and what it is that the Coen brothers need to shoot. Michael Bay? Presumably they need to go back to shooting Blood Simple or the universe unravels? Sound pretty important for a movie I'd never heard of until I just googled it.

Really bad luck in pulling me for a judge. If my wife had anywhere greater than 0 interest in gaming, she'd have been a great judge for you (and rolled her eyes and sighed when I didn't get 90% of your references).

I'm pretty sure now the PCs are some sort of "Timewatch" sent on missions to fix broken timelines. Though it's often a primary theme of time travel RPGs, there are other things you can do with them.

Are they in 1983 or 1984? Did the players follow him from now, are they native to 1983/4, or from the future? Did the Coen brothers go with Bay from now or are they the 1983/4 Coen brothers? Why does he have to go to 1983/4 again?

Remembering that I'm supposed to be doing just a quick skim for cool, fun bits, it seems the PCs are trying to use their knowledge of Hollywood personalities to stop the movie using purely social skills. This means somehow convincing Bay to go home without telling him why, which seems like not so much a railroad as a single-scene adventure: they chuckle at the references, then try to convince Bay he's awesome and everyone else's just haters.

If they fail, there's not much recourse since he has unkillable bodyguards that will stomp them dead if (really when since they are PCs) they try any funny business. Better hope you have a character with dope social abilities and/or everyone realizes this is their one shot at success so better spend whatever resources you have on this one roll...

Already Second Pass
I'm drifting into the second read it seems. I just got how poor judges must feel reading my entries: "look at all the clever references and over-the-top moving parts... how do I run this again?"

I just realized Blood Simple is a movie and am Googling it. Editing back above with some of my realization which might make this judgment make less sense, but yay sleep deprivation! Hoping the plot synopsis will help understand the adventure.

Nope.

Oh, Blood Simple (1984). Got it.

Switching formally to the second reading even though I've read it several times: how would I see this running and would I want to?

I see a bunch of chuckles at the movie/celebrity references (that I mostly don't get) then the PCs have fun but effectively meaningless interactions with action stars and Coens, before hopefully realizing they need to convince Bay to go home through epic sucking up.

They succeed and it's a wrap. They fail and TPK as they try to kidnap him resulting in direct combat and murdered by Markie Mark et. al.

Maybe I'm missing something critical, but that's my read. Would it be wacky fun? Probably. Would I want to run it? Probably not.

Third Pass
Let's move on to pass the third: ingredients.

Simple Plan: As a plan, this is anything but simple. In fact, it's about as convoluted and tortured as you could conceive of yet is exactly the sort of thing Hollywood produces so Bay might think it's simple. However, the "Bay is a simpleton" dig is clever so I'll give this one credit. Plus, it's hooked to the movie Blood Simple which, in retrospect, is probably what you actually meant not the stuff I read into it.

Credit Due: Bay thinks he's due credit for all his awesome movies and so launches into this whole misadventure. Since it's also the only way to solve the adventure makes the ingredient much stronger (and the adventure much weaker).

Dogs of War: Having not seen the Transformers (even as a kid; growing up in a cult where pop culture was evil nerfed my cartoon watching), I had to look up the dogs to see if they exist in Transformers. Answer is yes, which ties into the Last Knight. Even skimming Wikipedia's movie plot summary made me cringe. Ironically, I was the judge who added the Last Knight to our ingredient pool but didn't even know there was a Transformers movie with the same name. Tangents aside, these could be replaced with anything and even those things could be ignored. If the PCs succeed, the Dogs are window dressing. If the party fails, they are unkillable insta-death machines.

Poor Reception: An understated general consensus as to the Last Knight's quality. It's fairly integrally tied to Credit Due and the (only?) solution to the adventure.

Last Knight: Tied tightly to Dogs of War with the same limitation: if they players do well, they never have to interact with it while if they fail and do what players usually do when words fail, it's game over. Maybe literally.

Reality Breach: I'm not sure exactly why Bay's time travel will destroy everything, but it is at least central to the plot as it's the main thing they're trying to avoid. The PCs don't interact with the breach directly... and this just pushes harder on the "why time travel" question I had. This links to Blood Simple even if we don't know why time travel creates a breach.

If this is a time travel game then presumably time travel is safely reproducible? Though I don't think I'd trust a time machine created by Bay either. It would definitely end with a giant bang and people wanting their time back.

All in all, the ingredients are woven together surprisingly well even if some of the players won't tug on their threads at all.

In summary, this adventure is clever, funny (even pop-culture ignoramus I chuckled), the ingredients knit together tightly, and the whole adventure resolves in a single Charisma check. The entire critical path my sleep-deprived brain can derive: approach Bay → flatter him (roll) → pass=win, fail=get physical+die. The adventure grew on me more and more as I read yet I still wouldn't want to run it.

On to @el-remmen with Let Slip.

Starting the first skim:

Stream of Consciousness as Read
Looking up Villains & Vigilantes as I've never heard of it. Superheroes, got it.

Who is "They" in the first paragraph? The players? Donors? Both are plural, but all the examples are singular.

"Recently assistant"? Usually a verb follows "Recently"...

Compiling a show? Did he debug it too?

Cocks sees his boss as "due credit?" So Cocks thinks the boss should get credit for giving Cocks more work without pay? What? This is also an ingredient but isn't bolded, so is it not meant to be the use?

The Last Templar thing is cool, the sort of thing I was hoping for when I poured that ingredient into the pool.

The PCs "should" witness Makepeace and Cocks arguing? What if they don't?

The dog's kinship with the Templar felt like a bit of a stretch, but having Super Dogs named Alfonso Henriques, Geoffroi de Charney, or Robert de Craon is pretty cool.

"The plan" = "their plan"? At first I thought that was suggested plan for PCs. I like how we get the dog's placement and motivation so don't have to figure out where all 13 dogs are and why.

PCs having to slip away to don supersuits is cool, as are the dogs' personality traits.

The twist of suddenly awakening Knight Ghost Satan is neat.

The occult superhero + ghost bit didn't make sense. Assuming that is a V&V system thing. Mechanical bits best left out of these.

First pass complete. Promising so far as I know who the bad guys/canines are, what they are doing, and why. Many adventures provide how the PCs must solve something but not why they should. This does the opposite by giving the why and leaving the how up to PCs. Exactly what you want for an RPG; you want scripted play a video game.

Having written a few of these things, I'm impressed you got that much in there in 750 words.

Second pass
A kid with a grudge working secretly with dog soldiers who identify as Templars rob the attendees at a posh gala and the museum hosting it. The dogs pack personality, motivation, and a plan that all help me run them and bring them to life. This would be plenty for a 2.5 page adventure, but we also get a re-awakened 700-year old ghost manipulating both sides to bring about the end times. Superhero games are my least favorite (Exalted excepted), but I could probably run this and enjoy it.

Third pass
Ingredientizing:

Simple Plan: The plan involves multiple placements, positions, and orders of operations, but it is relatively simple. It has the advantage of actually being a plan you might write down: functional, usable, and directly tied into the game.

Credit Due: the motivation for Cocks to launch the plan. The wording weakens this as it sounds like the opposite but I get it. Might be a bit stronger if his boss took credit for ALL their social media presence to justify masterminding a felony, but still works.

Dogs of War: literal war dogs who identify as Templar warriors. While cool, they could be replaced with almost any other enemy. If Cocks was secretly a weredog or something might have tied in better. Connected pretty well with the Plan and Credit Due at least.

Poor Reception: Clever double use that also puts more pressure/spotlight on the PCs since no help is coming and is also the setting for the whole adventure. About the best I could have hoped for with this ingredient even if it's present by what it keeps out.

Last Knight: The Templar who comes back for vengeance by (eventually, some day) creating the reality breach. His main feature is that he's a ghost though, not a knight. If the dogs were a strain originally bred by Templars or something instead of distantly sympathizing with them this would be stronger.

Reality Breach: Probably the weakest ingredient, especially since it doesn't even feature in this adventure except as the hinted climax of the story line that this adventure initiates.

Fairly well connected ingredients but many of them are individually arbitrary/replaceable or barely linked.

In summary, this adventure is fun, playable, has a great twist, and yet you could change several ingredients entirely without anyone noticing.

Interesting contrast:

Hail Caesar started off confusing, obscure, and somewhat frustrating to read through due to missed references. Yet as I read more, I became more impressed with how well tied together the ingredients were. Let Slip, however, started off as a far easier read, a great play, and left me comparatively disappointed reading the ingredients.

For pure ingredients, Hail Caesar wins via surprisingly tight intermeshing even if a couple ingredients are weak. For playability, however, no contest. Where Hail Caesar potentially boils down to a single interaction and maybe even a single dice roll to sway Bay, Let Slip starts with a gala, transitions to a violent heist wherein PCs must slip away to slip into their super suits then try to take out a group of disciplined, organized, and unpredictable supervillians while an ancient apocalyptic ghost manipulates both sides from behind the scenes.

In the end, playability and readability of decent ingredient use wins over a densely-packed, cleverly-constructed layer of ingredients supporting the shiny coin for flipping pass/fail. Maybe another judge more into movies would catch something I missed. Maybe that last sentence Wordcounter cut off would make more bits than Bay relevant. Maybe I'm just exhausted and I'm the problem not the adventure.

Whatever the case, Hail Caesar is wacky, clever, entertaining, and holds together about as well as a Michael Bay movie under close scrutiny.

Let Slip is solid, functional, and packs a cool twist. In spite of its decent vs excellent ingredient use, it and el-remmen advance to round 2.
 
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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I was really worried when I read how wild Snarf Zagyg's entry was! It was so inventive and fun, I knew that some judges would really go for it. I look forward to seeing what you come up with in later tournaments.

Answering some of Iron Sky's questions:

Round 1, Match 2: Snarf Zagyg vs el-remmen


On to @el-remmen with Let Slip.

Looking up Villains & Vigilantes as I've never heard of it. Superheroes, got it.

Who is "They" in the first paragraph? The players? Donors? Both are plural, but all the examples are singular.
The PCs in their civilian identities. They are the subject of the previous sentence and this one explains reasons why they might be there. The donors would not be "museum employees," so I thought that was clear - but I guess not. :(

Iron Sky said:
"Recently assistant"? Usually a verb follows "Recently"...

Huh? "Recently assistant curator went viral" - "went viral" is the past tense verb.

Iron Sky said:
Compiling a show? Did he debug it too?

For the life of me I could not come up with another word for curating because I did not want to say the curator curated. I should have just used a thesaurus.

Iron Sky said:
Cocks sees his boss as "due credit?" So Cocks thinks the boss should get credit for giving Cocks more work without pay? What? This is also an ingredient but isn't bolded, so is it not meant to be the use?

This was definitely weak. I was trying to succinctly explain that Cocks was not being accountable for his twitter joke and saw his boss as responsible for his being "cancelled" since the boss gave him that job to do in the first place.

Iron Sky said:
The PCs "should" witness Makepeace and Cocks arguing? What if they don't?

In a longer version of this entry I did more to set this up and the timing of the party in general. Setting the scene of the party made room for the argument to be witnessed.

Iron Sky said:
The dog's kinship with the Templar felt like a bit of a stretch, but having Super Dogs named Alfonso Henriques, Geoffroi de Charney, or Robert de Craon is pretty cool.

Again, a longer version gave a half-dozen specific dogs with their names and powers. All cut.

Iron Sky said:
The occult superhero + ghost bit didn't make sense. Assuming that is a V&V system thing. Mechanical bits best left out of these.
It seemed weird to add the element of a ghost version of the actual curator unless the campaign already had a space for occult adventures like Dr. Strange, Dr. Fate or even sometimes Power Man and Iron Fist would have..

Iron Sky said:
Third pass
Ingredientizing:

Simple Plan: The plan involves multiple placements, positions, and orders of operations, but it is relatively simple. It has the advantage of actually being a plan you might write down: functional, usable, and directly tied into the game.

Credit Due: the motivation for Cocks to launch the plan. The wording weakens this as it sounds like the opposite but I get it. Might be a bit stronger if his boss took credit for ALL their social media presence to justify masterminding a felony, but still works.

Dogs of War: literal war dogs who identify as Templar warriors. While cool, they could be replaced with almost any other enemy. If Cocks was secretly a weredog or something might have tied in better. Connected pretty well with the Plan and Credit Due at least.

Poor Reception: Clever double use that also puts more pressure/spotlight on the PCs since no help is coming and is also the setting for the whole adventure. About the best I could have hoped for with this ingredient even if it's present by what it keeps out.

Last Knight: The Templar who comes back for vengeance by (eventually, some day) creating the reality breach. His main feature is that he's a ghost though, not a knight. If the dogs were a strain originally bred by Templars or something instead of distantly sympathizing with them this would be stronger.

Reality Breach: Probably the weakest ingredient, especially since it doesn't even feature in this adventure except as the hinted climax of the story line that this adventure initiates.

Fairly well connected ingredients but many of them are individually arbitrary/replaceable or barely linked.

I can't really argue with most of this. I knew reality breach was a reach and I wanted more knightly intrigue but didn't have room. I will take issue with the idea that they are replaceable or barely linked - but I won, so I won't grouse. ;)
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
Nicolas Cage Wow GIF by IMDb
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
@el-remmen - First of all, congratulations! A well-deserved victory- if I had to lose, I'm glad it was to a well-written superhero adventure. Now go and win the whole thing. :)

@Iron Sky - thank you so much for judging. I chose to go high concept and my entry depended on a pretty thorough knowledge of movies; unfortunately, I rolled a snake-eyes on that. But it's the writer's burden to make sure the reader understands, and I just didn't have enough words.

So here's my annotate version of the adventure. First, the gist, then the meat in the spoilers:

The gist:
When I saw the ingredients, I immediately knew that I was going to do a Michael Bay time travel adventure. But I went to sleep thinking I was doing it with A Simple Plan (Raimi) and how it was going to stop the spread of superhero movies.

...but then I woke up and realized ... TOO OBVIOUS! No, I had to go big, meta, and weird. So I went with four goals-

1. The adventure had to be meta; the overall adventure had to refer back to itself.
2. I was going hardcore into the ingredients, and would try to use them in multiple ways.
3. I was going to make an adventure that was combat-light, but provided a wealth of ways for the players to accomplish the tasks.
4. I would put in a bunch of jokes to amuse myself.

I'm not going to spoil (4)- either you see them or not, but what about the other 3?

1. Go meta or go home.

The entire adventure is set up to appear to be about Michael Bay, but it isn't. The giveaway is in the title- it's named after a Coen Brothers movie. That's right- the entire adventure is, in fact, a Coen Brothers movie. The gist of most Coen Brothers movies is that they start with a Simple Plan, but because people are who they are ... it fails spectacularly. Here, we have Michael Bay with his own simple plan- he is going to have a do-over. He is going to re-do his career and get the respect that he thinks he is due, and since he has a time machine, he can do it right by working with true artists, and basing his movie off of Shakespeare, and not repeating his mistakes.

Except he can't. He's Michael Bay. He's going to do the exact same thing he always does. The irony of this adventure is that Bay hasn't enlisted the Coen Brothers to help him create his movie; instead, Bay has set in motion a real-life Coen Brothers movie. People who can't help but be what they are, and spinning that out to horrible consequences.

2. Using the ingredients in multiple ways.

Simple plan- Michael Bay has a simple plan to be a great filmmaker. The film that he is wrecking (Blood Simple) is a canonical "simple plan" film. The Coen Brothers are considered the archetypal filmmakers of the simple plan trope (if you look up the trope on tvtropes, the Coen Brothers have their own section, and it's listed first).

Credit Due/Poor Reception- Both Michael Bay and the Coen are struggling with this. Michael Bay is motivated by the poor reception of his films, and wants credit for the film that he is making as an artistic masterpiece; but the way to persuade him is to convince him that he receives credit for his non-artsy films. The Coen Brothers want the credit for their artistic ambition, and are worried about the poor reception for the film that they are making.

Dogs of War- I had fun with this one! This is the canonical line from Julius Caesar referenced by Nic Cage when the party appears on set, albeit spoken in that peculiar way that Cage might choose to do so; it's also the name of the dogs/Transformers that report back to Bay, and it's the name of the Pink Floyd song (the anachronistic song, since Bay is using a 1987 song in a 1984 movie) that Bay has on the soundtrack to the movie, because Bay has never met a musical cue that was too obvious.

Last Knight- Okay, this was the one I really enjoyed, since it sent me on a whole tangent. In addition to a chess piece (knight), it's also the movie that set this whole thing in motion (The Last Knight) and the character that is the Last Knight in the Last Knight (Marky Mark). Since it's the time machine that is necessary to resolve a major part of the adventure, it's also the most important piece, which loops back to the idea of the chess piece. Word to your mother.

Reality Breach- Yeah, I couldn't do much with this. Save the world. Something something glow-y timequakes.


3. Try to give the players options.

Based on the feedback from Iron Sky, I'm guessing this didn't come through at all. The general idea was that there were three main goals for the players:
A. Get Bay to return to his time.
B. Get the Cohen Brothers to get back to shooting Blood Simple (which would require financing).
C. Get Cage to agree to be released from his contract.

The issue in the adventure was that everything was in tension- a sort of equipoise. Flattery to Bay, if the Coens found out, would make it impossible to convince the Coens to do anything. On the other hand, acknowledging to the Coens that the movie they were making sucked would alienate Bay (and the dogs were always watching). Finally, even if that needle was threaded, there still would be the issue of getting Blood Simple back on track, and that would require financing. And even if that was done, what could be done with Cage?

That's why there were hints of what could be done throughout the adventure; the first thing is that I put in a MacGuffin- as in any "Simple Plan" movie, and Hail Caesar specifically, time spent with Arnold would always be a waste - he couldn't help with anything, and if the party tried to use his "advanced weapons" against the Transformers ... it would end badly. Instead, there were other ways for an enterprising party to solve issues (Uncle Frank is, of course, Francis Ford Coppola; Cage and the Coens could be convinced to cast Cage as Hi ... and so on). In short, there were a multitude of ways to solve any problem scattered throughout.

I even put in a Bay-esque solution. If the players really wanted to take out the Transformers, well, the whole set is rigged with explosives .... just set them off and walk away, slowly ..... :)

Anyway, this was tons of fun to write. Best of luck to everyone!
 

Rune

Once A Fool
Judgement for Round 1, Match 3 Wicht vs. humble minion

Structurally, these two entries are about as different as they could possibly be. Wicht’s Incident With A Lucky Angel (“Incident”) is essentially a sandbox with stakes baked in. humble minion’s The Tree Of Dying (“Tree”) is a mostly straight-forward, mostly linear mission handed to some military PCs. A simple, direct adventure. At least at first.

All other things being equal, I’d expect the sandbox to be a more satisfying play-experience, if handled well, but I will point out at the outset that linearity in an adventure is not inherently a bad thing. Linear adventures probably run a greater risk of having problems pop up, but that isn’t necessarily the case, either.

How do these adventures compare?

Let’s start with Hooks and Stakes:

A pretty large chunk of “Incident” is taken up with background, which is not normally a great sign in an entry, but this background does a very good job of including some strong (and varied) stakes in the adventure.

The potential hooks are also pretty good, although I’m not sure why or how the second listed hook would come up. Who wants the PCs to fix the broken angel statue? Why?

I note that these questions both have clear answers if the second hook is rolled into the third one. All in all, pretty good.

“Tree” gives us almost no background and a very early, very simple and direct mission (with two very interesting complications that will pop up later, but I’ll get back to that). Given the military nature of the game, this kind of hook seems appropriate and effective.

One thing that this entry does to save itself from having to relate background is to rely very heavily on the established setting of the game. Since the GM is presumably going to be familiar with the system and setting, this makes the adventure quite efficient in conveying extra information.

Unfortunately, the extensive use of unexplained jargon works against the entry when it comes to making ingredients’ relationships to the adventure and to each other very clear. But we’ll get to that later. For the presentation of the adventure, the choice was a good one.

Now, the Structure of the Adventure:

As I said before, “Incident” is essentially a sandbox. Some sandboxes are better than others, however, and this entry does something very skillful in it’s presentation: it’s various factions and encounters all suggest relationships with each other and many of them introduce very compelling stakes, sometimes in ways that will necessarily change the direction of the adventure. This is all very good.

There are some things that might be a bit better with a little bit more information (for example, how long have the dragon-riding mutants been raiding the Koals? Will they continue if things are returned to normal?), but this is fundamentally a very strong structure.

There is one thing missing, though, and I think it’s lack is more apparent because of the sandbox-structure of the adventure: there aren’t really any rewards for the PCs in this entry. At least, no material rewards, as far as I can tell. “Tree” doesn’t really have any either, but the mostly linear set-up means that there’s going to be a more satisfying sense of pay-off at the end if they are successful (especially if they realize they would otherwise be killed).

Maybe this is a subjective thing, but my sense is that the sandbox structure is going to plant a seed in the players’ minds that they will want to find neat things, and there’s no help in the entry, here.

As for “Tree”, this entry is remarkably linear right up until the PCs find the Target, but it does some things to complicate the experience in satisfying ways and is presented flexibly enough that the linearity could mostly be masked pretty easily. If the GM is fairly skilled, at least.

One particular potential trouble-spot needs to be addressed, though. The adventure pretty much requires that Secretbearer survives through most of the early stuff, since both of the major complications that mark the transition out of the linear part are focused around that one PC. The fact that both hinge on only one player’s decisions might be a bit of an issue, too. The secret order to kill the Target might work fine (as long as the Secretbearer is alive), because it creates conflict with the rest of the party and, hence, involves them.

The fact that Llifyr only contacts the Secretbearer is more of a problem. On the one hand, because the other PCs might soon not trust the Secretbearer it means they will likely also not trust Llifyr. If they even believe the communication happened in the first place. That’s fun. On the other hand, as written, the Secretbearer has to survive, or the bad-faith deal will never be delivered to the party. This is easily fixed by having Llifyr contact each of them, in turn. Bonus points if she sows mistrust among the PCs along the way. Which I can totally see, if she views the Deathwatch as a threat equal to the orks.

Stepping back to take a wider view, I think “Tree” is serviceable until the PCs find Target, and at that point, the complicating factors start shaking things up and creating some very fun chaos. Add to that, I think the pay-off for success is very satisfying.

“Incident” is kind of the opposite. Most of it is excellent and engaging, but the pay-off for solving the various high-stakes that come up is going to be dependent on how invested the players are in reestablishing the Koal society. There isn’t really much else to motivate them.

I think, on the whole, “Incident” is a bit of a better adventure, but not so much that a better set of incorporated ingredients couldn’t tip the scales.

Thus, Ingredients:

Both entries come out strong with rotting incursions of Ghost Mushrooms. In both cases, the mushrooms play a pretty significant role in the adventure; in “Incident”, they are both the metaphorical representation of and the literal cause of the rotting society.

In “Tree”, they are tied to an incursion of orks (because Warhammer orks are fungi, if memory serves).

Unfortunately, I couldn’t see in either entry why it mattered that they were ghostly (or even in what way they were really ghostly). I will concede that I may have missed some nuance in “Tree” due to a less-than-deep knowledge of the setting. Some explanation of the jargon may have cleared this up. Lacking that, though, both entries are about even on this ingredient.

Similarly, “Tree” introduces a Rotting Utopia that doesn’t really explain why it used to be a utopia, but, again, a more in-depth knowledge of the setting might. At any rate, the rotting is pervasive throughout the adventure. In a way, every single fight with an ork is tied into it.

“Incident” is a little better at presenting an actual utopia (although I’m not sure the adventure wouldn’t work as well if it was any small society at all). Where it really shines, however, is in doubling down on the rot, making a theme of the ingredient that supports and shapes the entire sandbox. This is the kind of thing I love to see in an ingredient, so I definitely have to lean toward “Incident”, here.

It’s use of Bear Necessities, on the other hand? Well, it’s clever, and it plays an important role in establishing the stakes and the major threat within the adventure. It’s good.

I kind of like the use in “Trees”, more. First of all, it is more directly attached to the PCs, since it is something they’re going to have to live with right from the start. In order to traverse this setting, they can’t take all the gear they would want with them. This doesn’t mean much if it never comes back to them, but this scenario does bring it back: the PCs are probably going to have to grapple with it again at the end, when they need to figure out a way to topple the massive tree. Good stuff.

In perhaps the most coincidental convergence of ingredient interpretations I’ve ever witnessed in these tournaments, both entries provide giant armored water-dragon mounts as their Armored Lizards! I can’t even begin to understand how that happened. Is there something in the zeitgeist that I’ve missed?

In neither case does the armor matter that much (except that combat with both is likely). Again, this might be less true if I knew more about the Eldar armor in “Tree”, but the entry doesn’t explain it, so I don’t.

I also don’t see why the dragons need to be dragons at all (or if I should even count them as lizards), but they work within the context of the adventures, at least. It may be a slightly better fit in “Tree” given the watery setting, but just a bit.

I will say, in “Incident”, they could just as well have been mechanized kangaroos, or anything at all. I know I’m just restating my point, but I wanted an excuse to type out “mechanized kangaroos.”

I’m calling this ingredient a wash.

The Rootless Tree is used well in both entries. In “Incident”, it is a reinforcement of the main theme explored in the entry, as well as the catalyst and a major threat that the PCs will need to deal with. If they find out about it.

I am curious about something, though. When the branch falls and breaks off the statue’s head, is it because there was already some rot before the breaking? The entry seems to imply, no, but I think it might be more interesting if the answer was yes. Noting that it would have some pretty significant (and possibly contradictory) thematic implications if it was, of course. Hmmm.

Anyway, “Tree” has a more clever implementation, although not necessarily stronger. The tree in question is literally rootless, but it also is figuratively rootless as it drifts upon the water. Clever. Even better, the fact that it is literally rootless means that the PCs can topple it (if they find a way) to solve some of the ork-infestation problem.

This ingredient is very strong in both entries, so no edge to either one, I think.

I’m a lot less impressed with the Broken Angel in “Tree”, though. It only comes up as a potential character choice (made before the start of the adventure, of course) and is about as relevant to the adventure as you could expect an ingredient to be when it might not actually show up at all.

In contrast, “Incident” does very well. Not only is it’s broken state a cause of much of the adventure’s tension, it also comes back again as a looming threat. It doesn’t seem to matter much that it is an angel, but there is some thematic grounding for it. Presumably, it’s creators chose to represent it as an angel because it was part of a guarding ward. Guardian angel. Get it? It’s good.

Let’s do a quick check on how these ingredients stack up.

…Looks like “Incident” is slightly better, here.

Which means…

Add to that, “Incident” does an incredible job of tying its ingredients together. Everything but the Armored Lizard is tightly woven in with everything else. “Tree” is often quite clever with its ingredients, and they are generally well-integrated with each other and the adventure, but, where “Tree” is often excellent in this arena, “Incident” is transcendent.

And it’s adventure is very well-crafted, too.

@humble minion, I truly enjoyed your entry (more with each read) and I find your work impressive. I don’t think I have anything to suggest for improvement; you made some choices along the way and I have no doubt that you recognized the risks as you did so.

This entry shows why you are an IRON DM, but Wicht’s shows why it’s so hard to hold that title back to back in these tournaments.

Both are impressive works, but @Wicht advances to Round 2.
 
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Well, I knew going with a 40k adventure was a risk, I went into it with my eyes open, and sometimes risks just don't pay off.

Broken Angel: well, in-setting, 40k space marines are universally known as 'the Angels of Death' or 'the Emperor's Angels' and are frequently depicted as such in religious iconography etc. So i got one of them, and broke him (twice in fact, once with his bloodline curse, and once in combat with Rugluk), and made him an objective for one PC's personal mission and conflictingly, an information source for the wider mission. In retrospect I should have made it cleaner by specifying Target was a Blood Angel marine, and noting the adventure was intended for a party with a fellow Blood Angel in it, which would have saved some word count that I could have used to explain what the Black Rage was and why it was a big deal. I'm not sure why the judgement says the broken angel only mattered at the start and might as well have not been there at all - in my estimation, he (and the Secretbearer's decision about what to do with him) was a crucial part of the climax of the adventure. Perhaps I didn't make it clear enough that the NPC Target rather than the PC Secretbearer was the 'broken angel'? I don't understand this bit of the judgement, to be honest. However, @Rune is 100% correct in saying that I should have separated Llifyr's manipulation of the party from this whole dynamic, because it all just got a bit muddled, and confused two subplots (the secret mission, and Llifyr's duplicity) that didn't need to overlap.

Rotting Utopia: again, i was guilty of jargon shorthand and heavyhanded editing. A Maiden World, like Hamith, is a verdant paradise world seeded and geoengineered by ancient Eldar for the use and enjoyment of their descendents. I mentioned 'Maiden World' but i didn't explain what it was, and while i initially had some Eldar other than Llifyr living an idyllic life here pre-Rugluk, they fell to the word count cull in the last hour or so before deadline, alas, so the place unfortunately lost a bit of its utopianness in the editing process.

Ghost Mushroom: again, jargon and insufficient explanations of such. Many Eldar war machines are golem-like constructs controlled by the psychic ghosts of dead eldar, and are accordingly known as 'ghost warriors' or 'wraithguard'. My ghost mushrooms weren't themselves ghosts, they were mushrooms that extended into the psychic sphere, tainting or subverting these Eldar ghosts and allowing Rugluk to control the Eldar war constructs. They were 'ghost mushrooms' in the same way that 'wood mushrooms' are mushrooms that grow on wood, not mushrooms that are made out of wood.

Armored Lizard: the Eldar who live on Maiden Worlds (known as Exodites, in a bit of jargon that DID get cut...) are known for riding large reptilian dragony creatures to war. Just another tie-in to the setting lore - there was no more significance to the armour than that!

Writing an adventure that assumed lots of setting knowledge (especially in a setting like 40k where the lore is oceans deep) does let you save word count by shorthanding with setting-specific terms, but you risk a judge who's not a complete setting nerd missing some of what you're trying to do. And the more deeply tied to setting details that your adventure is, the more there is to miss, especially in the first round where the tiny wordcount gives you no space to spare for explanations. Iron DM is nominally setting-agnostic, but in the end this is primarily a D&D board and not a 40k board, and a competitor who wants to give themselves the best chance of winning should write their entries with that fact in mind. I got through the first round last year with a Buffy entry, but with this one I probably went several steps too far into setting minutae unless I lucked out and got a judge who was a huge 40k fan.

Having said all that, take nothing away from @Wicht who wrote a fun, gonzo, vaguely TMNT-esque adventure and for bonus points, set it in a place (Magnetic Island) that I've visited and am very fond of! Anything with drop bears gets a lot of bonus points from me. Congratulations on the win, and best of luck in future rounds.
 
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Rune

Once A Fool
Well, I knew going with a 40k adventure was a risk, I went into it with my eyes open, and sometimes risks just don't pay off.
I think it did pay off in some ways. I’ll elaborate in a moment.
Broken Angel: well, in-setting, 40k space marines are universally known as 'the Angels of Death' or 'the Emperor's Angels' and are frequently depicted as such in religious iconography etc. So i got one of them, and broke him (twice in fact, once with his bloodline curse, and once in combat with Rugluk), and made him an objective for one PC's personal mission and conflictingly, an information source for the wider mission. In retrospect I should have made it cleaner by specifying Target was a Blood Angel marine, and noting the adventure was intended for a party with a fellow Blood Angel in it, which would have saved some word count that I could have used to explain what the Black Rage was and why it was a big deal. I'm not sure why the judgement says the broken angel only mattered at the start and might as well have not been there at all - in my estimation, he (and the Secretbearer's decision about what to do with him) was a crucial part of the climax of the adventure. Perhaps I didn't make it clear enough that the NPC Target rather than the PC Secretbearer was the 'broken angel'? I don't understand this bit of the judgement, to be honest.
Allow me to clarify. The only mention of Blood Angel in the piece is this sentence: “If Secretbearer is a Blood Angel, Target may have succumbed to the Black Rage; a Space Wolf might suffer the Wulfen curse, etc (broken angel).”

And that sentence begins with the word if. Given the context, my assumption was that the Blood Angels were a faction a PC might choose to be a part of at character creation. Or not. This is undoubtedly the ingredient that suffered the most from the assumption of setting knowledge.
Rotting Utopia: again, i was guilty of jargon shorthand and heavyhanded editing. A Maiden World, like Hamith, is a verdant paradise world seeded and geoengineered by ancient Eldar for the use and enjoyment of their descendents. I mentioned 'Maiden World' but i didn't explain what it was, and while i initially had some Eldar other than Llifyr living an idyllic life here pre-Rugluk, they fell to the word count cull in the last hour or so before deadline, alas, so the place unfortunately lost a bit of its utopianness in the editing process.

Ghost Mushroom: again, jargon and insufficient explanations of such. Many Eldar war machines are golem-like constructs controlled by the psychic ghosts of dead eldar, and are accordingly known as 'ghost warriors' or 'wraithguard'. My ghost mushrooms weren't themselves ghosts, they were mushrooms that extended into the psychic sphere, tainting or subverting these Eldar ghosts and allowing Rugluk to control the Eldar war constructs. They were 'ghost mushrooms' in the same way that 'wood mushrooms' are mushrooms that grow on wood, not mushrooms that are made out of wood.

Armored Lizard: the Eldar who live on Maiden Worlds (known as Exodites, in a bit of jargon that DID get cut...) are known for riding large reptilian dragony creatures to war. Just another tie-in to the setting lore - there was no more significance to the armour than that!

Writing an adventure that assumed lots of setting knowledge (especially in a setting like 40k where the lore is oceans deep) does let you save word count by shorthanding with setting-specific terms, but you risk a judge who's not a complete setting nerd missing some of what you're trying to do. And the more deeply tied to setting details that your adventure is, the more there is to miss, especially in the first round where the tiny wordcount gives you no space to spare for explanations.
That’s the rub, right there. What you saved in exposition, you lost in clarity. But the adventure itself was well-served by being intricately tied to its setting. Anyone running it would be knowledgeable about the setting already, after all.

But the ingredients aren’t for them. They aren’t going to care about how well integrated they are. To be clear, what the ingredients needed wasn’t less jargon, though. They needed a little bit of explanation of how that jargon meant they fit.

I think there’s probably a balance between the two extremes that works, if you can find it.

Which is, of course, difficult to do while you are shaving words last minute, but that’s IRON DM for ya.
Iron DM is nominally setting-agnostic, but in the end this is primarily a D&D board and not a 40k board, and a competitor who wants to give themselves the best chance of winning should write their entries with that fact in mind. I got through the first round last year with a Buffy entry, but with this one I probably went several steps too far into setting minutae unless I lucked out and got a judge who was a huge 40k fan.
Well, again, it wasn’t the setting lore that damaged my understanding of your ingredients; it was the lack of clarity around how and why the setting lore mattered.

It was an exceptionally impressive first-round entry, though. Especially considering that you scrapped your first concept fairly deep into it’s development.
 
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Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I've found all the first round entries quite good this time round. 750 words is quite the straightjacket set next to the ingredients and other other rules and I've been impressed with what people have come up with. Hugs for everyone.:D
 


Wicht

Adventurer
My thanks to the judge for his work. And condolences to my opponent. I had real mixed feelings at the initial draw, pitting us together, as I hate to lose in the first round, but also hated to immediately knock off the reigning champ with a win. I wish @humble minion all the best in future contests!

I will say, as a general critique of The Dying Tree, that while the adventure seems fun, as a player, if I was a player I would feel like the Ork spores were growing a bit too rapidly and behaving in a very unorky manner. I also, if I had a PC knowledgable of ork spores, would not worry about tipping over the tree. I would pull a strategic withdrawal and follow Imperium Protocol and nuke the entire alien-haunted planet from orbit. It is, after all, the only way to be sure. Ork infestation is understood to be generally uncontainable, and burning the whole planet is a small price to pay for peace, especially if the planet has no human settlements. Other than that though, the whole running battle with orks over aquatic forest terrain is a cool set-piece. :cool:

A couple of explanations/responses to some of the esteemed Judge's questions/observations regarding Incident with a Lucky Angel:
1. The Ghost Mushrooms are called ghost mushrooms because that is their name; that is their name because they glow in the dark. These are a real-world mushroom which can be found on Eucalyptus trees. They only grow when the tree is dying, however, and are not to be found on healthy trees. These particular mushrooms have mutated obviously, but like everything else in the adventure, they are based on a real thing. One of the first things I did with Ghost Mushroom was google it to see if there was such a thing. As I had already settled on Koala bear humanoids for both the "Utopia," and the "bear necessities," I was pleasantly surprised to find that Ghost Mushrooms were a real thing, and that they were connected to Eucalyptus.

2.The Armored Lizard was definitely my weak link ingredient wise, though it did provide the Dragon Riders, and in many ways, the ability of their mounts to cross both land and water was important. Which means that Lizard became integral, but not armor. But if I only have one weak ingredient out of 6, I am going to be pretty happy. The background states that the riders were just beginning to scout out the island, so I had not considered the possibility of prior raids. The Island is 5 miles from land, on the other side of a settlement I was picturing as being a major player in the region. The foray to the island was meant to suggest a daring scouting mission, behind enemy lines, as it were.

3. The Utopia is a Utopia from the perspective of the humanoid koalas. They can lay around the island, picking food off the trees, enjoying the landscape and the weather, free from the worries plaguing the rest of the world.

4. It is my general opinion that the more you can tie ingredients together, the more integral they become, being less easily replaced. These ingredients just all seemed to do that, especially once I hit upon the angel being the source of radiation causing the mutation of the fungus and rotting the trees, thus rotting the society, and denying the Koala their necessary leaves. It even explained the rootless tree, the decay of which was what broke the angel thus creating the whole of the cycle. Its not often ingredients seem to fit together so well, but in this case they did for me.

5. I did realize, as I was editing and re-editing, that there was no actual conclusion provided for the scenario, and no suggested rewards beyond the possibility of saving a small slice of civilization from decay and pillaging. Word Count prevented much exploration there, but I also realized that the motivation of the PCs would determine their reward. Also, it struck me as something I had not much pondered before in relationship to the genre, but post-apocalyptic scenarios very seldom feature much in the way of reward beyond survival, saving a slice of civilization, or preventing the death of innocents. So genre-wise, the lack of clear reward was fitting for the setting.
 
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Radiating Gnome

Adventurer
Round 1, Match 4: @Neurotic and @loverdrive

Neurotic and Loverdrive, 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 Wordcounter.net 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:

Empty Treasury
Wonderful World
Terrible Bard
Historic Bridge
Uncivil War
Spectral Lion
 

Rune

Once A Fool
1. The Ghost Mushrooms are called ghost mushrooms because that is their name; that is their name because they glow in the dark. These are a real-world mushroom which can be found on Eucalyptus trees. They only grow when the tree is dying, however, and are not to be found on healthy trees. These particular mushrooms have mutated obviously, but like everything else in the adventure, they are based on a real thing. One of the first things I did with Ghost Mushroom was google it to see if there was such a thing. As I had already settled on Koala bear humanoids for both the "Utopia," and the "bear necessities," I was pleasantly surprised to find that Ghost Mushrooms were a real thing, and that they were connected to Eucalyptus.
I really wish that hadn’t slipped past me. It only strengthens the already impressively strong ingredient-weave you had going on there!
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff (She/Her)

IRON DM 2021​

Round 1, Alice Lovedrive vs Neurotic

The Ingredients:
  • Empty Treasury
  • Wonderful World
  • Terrible Bard
  • Historic Bridge
  • Uncivil War
  • Spectral Lion


There’s a reason why elves never sleep.

The nightmares tap into the noosphere and bring forth doom. The horrifying concepts of all too earthly drives, raw and uncontained, sip into the world, thought by thought, word by word and take a physical form.

The true scale of the threat is beyond their comprehension. The living don’t think in concepts, they give them names and looks and desires, twisting them even more and creating a dark image of themselves.

DROW

they call these horrors. Twisted, vile, cruel, living in the darkness of the Agartha, that’s how they are painted in the minds of the men.


But they never stoped. Of course, the horrors must have their own ugly cannibal pantheon, horrifying and incomprehensible.

The Bitсh With Many Teeth, The One Who Hungers, The Spectral Lioness, they call her. She will eat the sun, they fear, she will swallow the stars, drink the seas, chew through the earth and will never vomit this world back to be reborn anew.

The Conqueror, The King, The Equalizer, they call him. He will burn and pillage, they tremble, he will rape and enslave everyone and everything who isn’t a spitting image of him.

The End, The Grim Reaper, The Empty Treasury, they call it. It will come for them, they dread, it will snuff out their fires, scatter the ashes of their “eternal empires” and erase all memories of them.

Over time, they even figured out that maybe they are makers of their own doom… And of course, it’s a terrifying idea. They gave it a name.

The Fifth Trumpet, The One Who Paints, The Terrible Bard.


Akhilesh, the mad scholar, has gazed upon the stars and discovered that they always match the astrological records. He has lost his own mind and shattered all too many others, experimenting, searching the truth.

One day, everything became clear and for the first time in millennia, he had a real plan.

He hooked the Machine of Machines (which does exist) to the Difference Engine (which doesn’t exist), applied some fine science of causality reversal and connected the whole world right to the noosphere, the only true god, blind, idiot, all powerful god, who actually answers the prayers.

He hoped that it will lead to the wonderful world. A magnificent heaven with no cauldrons of hell, an eternal peace with no uncivil war, a historical bridge between the men and their god.

He was wrong.




Screams. Hundreds and thousands of screams. Panic, horror, pain and fury, all fusing into a cacophonic crescendo, beyond rhythm, beyond structure, the magnum opus of a cosmic nu-jazz maestro dying in a joyful agony of a heroin overdose, thrashing around in a delirious nightmare of pure ungodly happiness.

This was the soundtrack of the end of the reality itself.


Countless terrified reality benders turned the world into their own twisted Sistine Chapel, the broken Adam with dozens of dozens of malformed limbs reached his hand towards the sky.

The sky with no God. The sky with a gaping God-shaped hole.


Character creation

Say, who you were before. Write that down. It’s irrelevant, anyway.

You have two stats: Control and Humanity, and both start at +0. When one goes up, the other always goes down.


Basic moves

To do it, do it

When you tap into the noosphere to reshape the reality, roll 2d6+Control. On 10+, you do it. On 7-9, choose one and on 6- the GM will choose for you:

  • The cacophony of the end of the world distracts you, you lose yourself in the unholy melody. Whatever you were trying to achieve backfires, but you are not in danger.
  • Something breaks inside you, you lose the touch with the human inside. -1 Humanity.
  • You are terrified of your own powers. -1 Control.

If you do it, you do it

When your actions reshape your personality as per reverse causality law, and you resist it, roll 2d6+Humanity. On 10+, you remain yourself. On 7-9, you still gain some characteristics of the new image. On 6-, the GM will tell you what happens, and you won’t like it.


Special moves

Standoff

When you face a man-made god, roll 2d6+nothing. On 10+, you make it bleed the concept of blood. On 7-9, you are alive and well, at least for now. On 6-, this is it.


The End

When you touch the Machine of Machines and try to erase it out of existence, the game ends. You get to narrate the consequences of the apocalypse.
 

Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
@Snarf Zagyg , after reading your summary, your adventure is much deeper and nuanced than I saw when I was judging. I literally am about the worst judge you could have drawn for this; me having to go to a search engine to see who the Coen brothers were again probably doomed you more than anything you could have done on your end. Having the goals snipped also probably hurt you the most in playability as it left almost all the focus on Bay. It would have been much harder to judge with multiple objectives.

I've never run a time travel game because why not just go to the point in time when Bay is building a time machine and stop him before he has the capability of creating a reality breach?

Also, tvtropes is cool. I think I went down the rabbit hole on it when I first heard about it a decade-ish ago, then forgot it existed until you just mentioned it again. Wikis are like crack to me and I can only dip lightly lest I fall into them for hours straight.

@el-remmen my compare-contrast brain was functioning when I read your entry but I was trying to cover the adventures individually. Effectively replace "many of them are individually arbitrary/replaceable or barely linked" with "I found the ingredients somewhat tighter and less changeable than in Let Slip."
 
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Rune

Once A Fool
Commentary on loverdrive’s entry:

The prose in this piece is very nice. It has a good rhythm and keeps pulling the reader along.

The adventure itself might be the single most subtly ambitious entry I’ve ever seen in IRON DM. A whole PbtA system, scenario, and campaign (such as it it) packed into 750 words and an evening of play. A single story to tell in an evening and a new one tomorrow, perhaps. Impressive!
 

Neurotic

I plan on living forever. Or die trying.

What (could be) a beautiful world!​

Round 1, Alice Lovedrive vs Neurotic
Ingredients:
• Empty treasury
• Wonderful world
• Terrible bard
• Historic bridge
• Uncivil war
• Spectral lion

Synopsis:
PCs need to stop the Terrible Bard and his cult in creating his Wonderful World fantasy in which only the beautiful survive and multiply. To that end he emptied the treasury of the kingdom, creating his personal cult, organizing the most potent ritual in remembered history.

Background:
The bard spent decades preparing for this moment. Lion knight is kept sterile and now that everything is ready, he is poisoned. The king is convinced to make the best of the best his next Lion Guard.

The most beautiful girls of the seven kingdoms are invited to a beauty pageant to be held at Löwenan Crossing, mercantile center at the Four Rivers. The best dresses, the poise, the most beautiful face, alluring demeanor, if you have it, someone will sponsor you.

The most handsome, bravest men, whose forms rival those of the heroes of old are invited to their own version of the event. The reward? The most beautiful woman in the world and noble title.

Nobility usually disdains such displays, but even they cannot deny the temporary prestige the position brings.

And this year is promising to be incredible because the king and whole royal family will be there. Rumor is, the royal historian will sign the winners as the new nobles of the Löwenan family – recently extinct nobility of old – the inheritors of Marcelus Löwenan that held the Crossing at Crossings Bridge against the barbarian hordes, who kept the king alive until help arrived. Ever since, one of the family sons, a knight, guarded the king. And this is the first guard without children. The knight died from a mysterious illness before he could name an heir.

The historian arrives early to organize the event. The rumor is confirmed and the town goes into a frenzy.

The bridge is now a historical monument, a wide plaza connecting the town into a single unit.

With the promise of nobility, more than one family, nobles, merchants and peasants alike encouraged their most precious daughters to apply. The possibility also sparked the war between mercantile and noble families ranging from displays of wealth, competition at the best craftsmen to create the clothing to rumor spreading and defamation. This uncivil war rages on even as the contestants make their speeches, each trying to outdo others or make them look bad.

Of all 800 contestants, only 20 of each will be presented…and only two will be chosen as winners. At that moment, the Royal Historian will come up, proclaim the man next Löwenan, and make him swear his loyalty to the king on the family sword. The marriage is concluded immediately after and the revelry can begin.

Except…the bard concludes the ritual just as the newlyweds kiss and everyone outside the immediate area freezes in place lost to their own utopia, wonderful world of their inner desires. As the thought world moves faster than normal, many quickly show signs of deterioration. PCs need to find the solution quickly.

Potential resolutions:
Players need to stop the bard, the ritual, or evacuate everyone.

They can find out about the ritual from snippets of conversation between workers, observing cultists preparing for it, or hearing from the concerned librarian who helped with the research.

By this time they should know enough to be protected from the spell or to be on the bridge.

If they prevent the ritual, the bard collapses, crying about his life work. Or attacks in a rage. DMs call.

Killing the bard will not be enough by this time; the cultists have everything they need to complete the ritual. Interrogating him can yield the locations of the cultists. PCs need to stop some groups from finishing the ritual. Once the ritual is complete, the people will die in a short time. All, but those protected by the circle around the bridge.

To end the spell once finished, the players need to know about Löwenan family, their motto: post mortem Regis protegat (protect the king beyond death), their family sword, and Löwenans deed some centuries past. If the new lord invokes the motto holding the sword point down on the bridge, all Löwenan lords from centuries past will come to their aid. These spectral lions can enter the dream world of each person and take them out. Or they can help with the cultists.

Taking the people physically out of the city will also wake them, but PCs might have to contend with the cultists.

Rewards:
Noble title, Money, Reputation
 

Rune

Once A Fool
Commentary on Neurotic’s entry:

Very interesting scenario! It has a real fairy-tale feel. If I were to run this in D&D, I’d probably place it in Faerie/Feywild. And bards should be used as villains more often!
 

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