IRON DM 2021 Tournament


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Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
For the first time in my history of playing IRON DM, I got nothing. . . Everything I have come up with is such garbage I can't even bring myself to finish writing it down. Can an alternate take my place or something? o_O :cry: What if I only do six ingredients and only take 24 hours? I'd prefer that. ;)
It's funny how different people respond to the ingredient lists. When I read that list I had an almost fully formed idea pop into my head. Some of the other ones we've had though, that other people seem to have just run with, I've looked at and drawn a complete blank. (extra points for the movie reference there)
 



Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
It's a game within a game, a mystery wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in some nice phyllo with a tasty honey glaze.
 


Wicht

Adventurer
The day begins with a rewrite. Those words need to fit together a bit tighter. I got to the word limit and hadn't even finished adding in all the ingredients. I suspect I have a 2000 word idea that needs smashed into a 1500 word bottle.
 




Rune

Once A Fool
Protip: Use contractions.
ex. I'm. Shouldn't. Etc.

Galaxy Brain: Make up your own, new, contractions.
ex.
Old boring English: I still need to smash 11 words to get to 1500 + title
New Hotness: I st'need t'smash 11 words t'get t'fifteenhundred.
Pro tip: Making th’entry harder t’read s’not always th’bestapproach.

Judges have to read these things multiple times. Making that a fatiguing process is not wise.
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Pro tip: Making th’entry harder t’read s’not always th’bestapproach.

Judges have to read these things multiple times. Making that a fatiguing process is not wise.

Ohyay onay! Erethay oesgay ymay erfectpay anplay otay oday ymay extnay ironyay mday entryyay entirelyyay inyay igpay atinlay.
 




Wicht

Adventurer
Iron DM 2021: Round 2 Match 1, Wicht vs. El-Remmen
Ingredients
Slippery Slope
Morale Check
Limbless Beast
Heavy Crown
Subpar Hero
Vanished Behemoth
Tomorrow’s Match


Diplomacy’s Cold Crown
A high-level diplomatic adventure of giant proportions featuring fast worms, icy paramours and cold steel for Pathfinder/D&D

North of the kingdoms of men and elves, in mountainous lands perpetually covered by snow and ice, the ancient race of frost giants dreams of lost glory. It is a moment of historic decision for a nascent glacial kingdom, seeking parity with their southern neighbors, caught between a legacy of war and the possibilities of peace. Powerful heroes, individuals the giants might respect, are called to serve as diplomats urging the giants in the direction of peace and stability.

Synopsis: Drafted as diplomats by their respective nations, the PCs are sent to the court of the frost giant jarl, Ardrar Gudkol. The goal is a peace treaty the giants will honor, eliminating the constant threat of frost giant raids. The Jarl, desiring the best for his people, is open to such possibilities; not all within his court are as amiable. The PCs must win support for their cause, navigating the treacheries of the court through daring deeds and wise action. The PCs task coincides with an annual tournament, the centerpiece of which are worm-racing matches. The event offers both dangers and possibilities for the PCs and their mission.

Notable Giant NPCs
Ardrar Gudkol
The jarl; proud, with visions of a true kingdom; he desires his people to rise above their lawless ways, but is mindful of tradition.
Henka Gudkol The jarl’s wife; she has her husband’s ear and a keen grasp of court intrigue. Winning her good graces is vital.
Arka Gudkol A flirtatious young princess
Shult Koltabl Court champion; once honorable, now deeply in debt, after a long slow decline into shame. Fearful of his debts being brought before the court, he has agreed to lose the tournament.
Monlan Isholter A cunning wizard of no small ability, Isholter shares the Jarl’s dreams of a true kingdom, but desires to achieve it by conquest.
Herre Hirokol A nefarious tribal leader, an extortioner, collector of debt and encourager of vice.
Shmular Kotabl The champion’s son; shy by frost giant standards; deeply in love with the princess

The Court of the Frost Giants
From the moment the PCs enter the Jarl’s Hall, they are surrounded by danger and intrigue. The ancient stone edifice, built into the side of a massive snow covered mountain, is an impressive sight, all the more with white dragons basking on the mountain above the keep, and giant guards keeping vigil. It is a place where non-giants seldom dare to venture, and for good reason. Though powerful and well known in their own lands, here the PCs must win the approval of their hosts, a daunting task.

The frost giants are an evil collective, but the strength of their Jarl keeps them from openly attacking his diplomatic guests. It is expected that the PCs will likewise be on their best behavior.

Securing the treaty requires winning over the hearts and minds of various factions on the court. It is suggested that this effort be scored with Diplomatic Points (DPs). If the PCs can gain 20 DPs, they can convince the Jarl to make peace. If they ever reach -20 DPs, the Jarl declares war against the southern kingdoms. A final score somewhere along that scale will produce favorable or unfavorable results accordingly. PCs should use diplomacy, their skills, and their natural cunning in order to try and sway the Jarl and his people.

There are two factions within the court. The first, led by the jarl’s wife, favors peace. The second, led by the wizard Isholter, favors war. PCs will not immediately know which giants are on which side however, and savages though they may be, the giants are cunning enough to win through means other than violence.

One complication the PCs quickly encounter takes the shapely form of the Jarl’s daughter. In love with young Shmular Kotabl, the champion’s son, of whom her mother disapproves, the princess quickly and flirtatiously latches onto one of the PCs, in a conniving attempt to manipulate her mother into accepting Shmular. How the PCs navigate this situation affects both their standing with the Jarl, and with his wife. The princess’ perceived romantic interests in a member of the smaller races creates a brief fad in the court.

The Ice Tournament
When the PCs arrive, the giants are beginning an annual tournament. Various events include Ice Hauling, Boulder Tossing, Overland Racing, Mountain Climbing, and Ice Smashing. Participation is open to all, including the PCs. Participation improves their standing with the giants, even moreso if they win. PCs are encouraged by minions of Herre Hirokol to place wagers on various events with credit easily extended, in hope of placing the PCs in debt to the crooked tribal leader.

PCs should discern that the court champion, who won his place in the court through past victories, is the favored to win the tournament. Yet in each competition something occurs to prevent his victory. In the Ice Smashing, his club breaks prematurely; in the ice hauling, a sled runner snaps; in the mountain climbing loose rocks cause him to slip, etc.

Competing PCs face another challenge: court opponents use the games as an opportunity to make the PCs look foolish, even placing the PCs in danger via “accidents” and mishaps.

The Worm Races
The most popular event of the tournament is Worm Racing. Giants ride atop trained frost worms, sliding down vast tubular ice covered courses at break-neck speeds. Daily courses each have different obstacles, including chasm leaps, hair-pin turns, tunnels, spear throwers, falling rocks and the like. Competitors are scored daily according to their finishes; the last day of the tournament, the final course is twice as difficult and worth double the points.

Allies of Isholter offer the PCs a gift of a trained worm to compete in the races and the Jarl urges them to accept. The gifted worm is trained, but also sickly and near death. The PCs can use magical healing to revive it to full health but even so, competing has many challenges: the PCs must endure the worms icy aura, win its trust and affection, and learn how to actually race on it. No rule prevents more than one PC from riding the worm at a time, and its size is sufficient to bear at least four PCs per race. When the PCs race, their standing with the giants is enhanced.

The Crown Incident
The prize for the tournament is a coveted fiery crown carved from solid stone. This enchanted object is rather unusual, functioning as a +3 flaming returning hand-ax which deals blunt damage. On the sixth day of the tournament, the crown is stolen. A search of the keep turns up the crown, in the rooms of one of the PCs, where it has been planted by Isholter’s henchmen in order to incriminate the PCs. Can the PCs prove their innocence?

The Worm Theft
The day before the last race, Koltabl arranges for his worm, a massive beast, to be “stolen.” The whole court is aghast at news of the missing behemoth and how it will affect the race on the morrow. There are some who look suspiciously at the PCs. PCs who attempt to “help” Kotabl can follow clues leading to the thieves’ hideout. The frost giants who took the worm are brutish thugs not connected to anybody important, but if adequately “questioned,” they identify the court champion as their employer. Canny PCs confronting Kotabl with this information, can use it to earn his trust (or alternatively they can lose his support by handling it badly). If they figure out a way to get him out from his debt without revealing his secret to the court they will win a solid ally. Ideally, they should convince Koltabl to overcome his fears, stand up to Herre Hirokol who owns the debt, and reclaim his honor.

The Debt Collectors
It is likely the PCs meander into conflict, one way or another, with Hirokol, a crooked tribal leader who uses blackmail and extortion to influence events. Outright fighting with Hirokol in public will hurt the PCs standing, but if they can surreptitiously break his hold on the court, they will improve court morale, and win a great deal of good-will, particularly from the Jarl’s wife, who is well aware of Hirokol’s machinations.

The Final Race
Isholter himself enters the last worm race, determined to use the occasion to show how weak the PCs truly are (assuming they are racing). His worm is a true monster, twice the size of the average frost worm. As the race commences, the PCs must not only navigate the course, but engage in high-speed combat with the wizard and his allies, with worms crashing into each other, spells flying, and combatants leaping from worm to worm. How they handle themselves during this fight foreshadows their triumph or failure in fulfilling their mission.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Iron DM 2021: Round 2 Match 1, Wicht vs. el-remmen
Ingredients
Slippery Slope
Morale Check
Limbless Beast
Heavy Crown
Subpar Hero
Vanished Behemoth
Tomorrow’s Match


“Don’t Have a Cow, Man?” (A D&D3e mini-campaign of kaiju and politics)

Long ago the gods decreed that the City-States of the Continent of Plarnth would be ruled by the Beast Masters, men and women chosen by the gods to wear the heavy crown and control great guardian beasts that would do battle with each other for control of territory and resources. Each city has its own Guardian Behemoth—essentially a kaiju. The rules for these combats are obscurant, reinforced as religious doctrine, and to be respected without compromise, lest the world fall back into chaos, and men are forced to fight their own wars.

When the adventure begins, the Beastmaster Xovorax has been overthrown by his people. His city, Kopak, is now “free.” Despite generations of oppression, including the sacrifice of any promising young people to the city’s behemoth, the subpar heroes that remained, were finally able to rise up and lop off the head that wore the heavy crown. Unfortunately, with this flagrant violation of the will of the gods, the city’s behemoth vanished—as it was the manifestation of the favor of the gods for keeping to the system they devised.

Kopak’s behemoth is a gorgon-like aurochs with massive horns, iron-clad hooves that shake and crack the earth, and a petrifying breath. It normally exists in the ethereal plane and must be summoned by its Beast Master.

For the two weeks leading up to the coup, Xovorax had led the City-State into a fruitless war against the people of Chirops, whose limbless beast is feared throughout the continent. The ancient laws say that the behemoths must win two out of three falls (they can be hurt but cannot die permanently unless their city is destroyed), and so far, each side has won one match, tomorrow is the final match and without a guardian, the Limbless Beast is bound to destroy Kopak and everyone in it.

There are those among the rebels that welcome this. Throughout the centuries the poorest people—essentially a class of serfs and woodsmen—have borne the brunt of these immense monsters fighting at the whim of the Beast Masters. The cities have walls and the gods’ laws maintain they must remain inviolate while their Behemoths live, thus the privileged class are safe inside, while the breadbasket of all the realms is torn up and countless die. Of course, the gods aren’t completely heartless, in places where the monsters tear up the earth or burn down whole villages, nature’s bounty returns the next spring more bountiful than before, the land more fertile, the fruit more plentiful, the wildlife abundant. Nations thrive while common people suffer. And while some people see this as a necessary compromise to have children who are never hungry, “Let the cities burn” is a mantra among the scorched earth sects. This could lead to a conflict among the rebels.

The adventure begins at a crossroads for Kopak and this world. The PCs are part of the subpar heroes who helped to free the city (anyone who might’ve surpassed the bar for “hero” one day has been systematically sacrificed in youth).They now stand in the blood-drenched throne room of the dead Beast Master and are being looked to for guidance and leadership of what to do next since tomorrow’s match is eminent.

Pre-Gens: The characters for this adventure should be purposefully sub-optimal. They are all 4th level humans characters built using the substandard array: 13, 11, 10, 10, 9, 7 for stats and using only NPC classes (warrior, adept, commoner, or expert - none may be an aristocrat). Their first level starting hit points is average rounded down and they must take this amount for the subsequent levels. Finally, each character should roll randomly for one magical item. If they roll an item worth over 25000 gps, they get a cursed item instead.

Options: While the PCs are free to choose whatever course of action they deem best, these are some of the basic options:

#1 Sabotage: The PCs may attempt to infiltrate Chirops and the lair of the Limbless Beast to deal with the monster before it is released. The limbless beast of Chirops is really a blue dragon who has had its wings and legs burned off. It is the last dragon - as in the ancient times all great monsters were destroyed by the gods or bound to service to the cities in punishment for hubris. Once a magnificent being of legendary renown, it offended the gods and was maimed and bound to the city-state as a punishment. Furthermore, since among the arcane rules binding the battle of the Behemoths is that none of them may have the power to fly (that kind of air superiority would leave the cities vulnerable to attack), this dragon crawls on its belly like a snake. In order to be transformed into a kaiju-sized beast, it must pass through a magical archway dedicated to the goddess of snakes and giants.
  • PCs might find a way to destroy the archway, thus ensuring that Chirops’ Behemoth cannot battle in the traditional way (though it would still be a challenge beyond the sub-par heroes in normal form).
  • They might find a way to circumvent the will of the gods and heal the dragon’s wings, disqualifying it and letting it escape. It could become their ally against the gods and other Beast Masters!
#2 The Morale Heist: As part of a network of rebels seeking to undermine the system of Beast Masters, the PCs are in contact with other cells of commoners working against their City-State overlords. As such, it is known that the people who live outside of Chirops receive what many people refer to as “the Morale Check” before each of the great Behemoth battles. These are small runestones that can be turned in for cash should you survive the battle. Since most people survive (even if their homes are destroyed) they support the system, cashing their “checks” and keeping their morale up and even cheering on their local monster as wagering is also common.

The PCs could attempt to intercept the wagons of the runestones to be distributed and cause a lapse in the morale of Chirops in hopes of people rising up as they did in Kopak. This is much more in line of what the PCs might be able to accomplish, since while the wagons are guarded, they aren’t guarded by monsters. This would successful check the morale of the Chiropsians.

Problems: The problem with both of the above approaches is the slippery slope of undermining the current system. Chances are that if behemoths are freed or destroyed, old fashioned war will arise again, leading to as much (if not more) carnage and chaos. The first option would lead to a counter assault by hastily gathered forces of Chirops to systematically destroy Kopak territory (as opposed to the random acts of behemoth) burning crops and villages, killing people indiscriminately, and taking children into bondage as they once did for the giant snake goddess in ancient times. The second option might lead to an uprising by the people but will lead to other City-States potentially releasing their Behemoths to destroy both, as their Beast Masters see this as a threat to their control and an affront against the gods.

Option #3: One of the PCs could try to take the role of a Beast Master by putting on the heavy crown and re-summoning Kopak’s behemoth to finish up the fight against the Limbless Beast. The magical crown is designed so that whoever wears it needs to be strong of mind and body and spirit. It is so heavy that actually wearing it is exhausting. While subpar, the PCs might try to figure out who among their number might try to use it. It requires the wearer to make Strength-based FORT saves to keep it on, Con-based FORT saves to not get tired while keeping it on, Int-based reflex saves to force the behemoth to take specific actions (or Wisdom-based ones to refrain from specific actions) at other times it just “fights,” and Cha-based WILL saves to keep from being subsumed in the monster’s consciousness, their body becoming a husk and the monster goes on a mindless rampage before disappearing again.

As one or more PCs attempt to work the monster to defend the city (or violate the protocols and attack Chirops directly), others could be out in the field, working to save people in the path of the marauding monsters (having a sense of where the fight will happen).

Problem: While not the same kind of slippery political slope as the first two options, this option may lead to the dissolution of the rebellion, as one of the PCs will eventually become the new Beast Master with some reforms that probably do little to change the basic monster system without drawing the ire of the other leaders and their behemoths.

All the behemoths should be gargantuan monsters of recognizable type with addition tarrasque-like powers.
 

Radiating Gnome

Adventurer
This is a match of matches, old guard vs old guard, and it shows. Great work, both of you.

So, each judge is different, and the whole point to this is that everything is subjective. Off we go for "Cold Crown" vs. "Don't have a Cow (DhaC)."

Ingredients. Seven ingredients this time...
Slippery Slope
In Cold Crown, the slippery slope is the capstone competition in the big Ice Tournament -- the worm luge, as it were. Wait, it can hold up to four humans, so not luge. Worm bobsleigh. Wormboggans. Something like that. There are multiple days of competition, and there's a whole minigame implied in what's going on here that sounds like it could be fun. So, a pretty solid use of this ingredient.

In DhaC, the slippery slope is a bit more of a stretch. The term is used to describe the likely outcome of undermining the system of Kaiju city champions dueling to settle disputes between citystates. I'm okay with the idea of using "slippery slope" as a type of argument in this challenge, rather than as a literal slope that is somehow slippery, but in this case I'm not sure that what we have presented here is a slippery slope. After all, a slippery slope is meant to be a logical fallacy, a way of implying something is likely to happen when it isn't. In this case, we're meant to believe that the destruction or release of the kaiju will absolutely lead to much more destructive war between city states. Perhaps it's the former-english-comp-2 instructor in me rising up from the past, but this implementation of slippery slope feels a bit weak, and certainly weaker than what Cold Crown came up with, so advantage CC.

Morale Check
These are coming in an order where I'm going to be coming down hard on DhaC, but I think that will just be an early anomaly in the ingredient analysis. But here, again, we have ChaC making a less-than solid use of an ingredient. The Moral Check is a stone runestone token that is given to the people who live out in the open between cities where Kaiju will soon battle. The stones can be turned in for cash if the bearer survives the destruction of the battle -- to "keep morale up". A sort of restitution for the destruction to come, paid in advance, which strikes me as an odd system, but this is an example of a sly use of the ingredient that doesn't quite work for me. The rune stones are not a "check" in any sense of the term, for one thing, and the whole idea seems a big forced.

For Cold Crown, the morale check is also not really a single check -- but the idea that breaking the hold of the debt collectors on the court will improve morale overall. I like that the struggle with Hirokol must be carefully handled, and that outright battle is not a good idea -- and I like this part of the adventure, but improving morale and a morale check are not quite the same thing.

So, Meh. Neither really works for me. Tough ingredient.

Limbless Beast
Cold Crown has worm-toboggans. They're alive, they are dangerous and nasty, and the PCs have to figure out how to ride them. This covers the based solidly.
Don't have a Cow has a limbless beast -- the Kaiju of the city of Chirops is a limbless beast, a god-maimed flightless blue dragon that is magically increased to Kaiju size for battle. This appears to cover the ingredient, and it's interesting, but not quite as strong in my opinion as the worm-toboggans. It's not as integral to the story as the worms, since it is only the focus of one of the three possible solutions to the problem of the story, even if it's the most playable of the three (see below). I like it, but I like the worms more. So, slight advantage to CC.

Heavy Crown
So, in Don't have Cow, the heavy crown is the device that allows a mortal to summon and control the city's Kaiju -- and that's something the PCs have the option to try to do. This feels solidly part of the adventure and setting to me, and the idea of it being a crown makes sense. I like this one.
In Cold Crown -- despite being eponymous -- the crown is not quite as well used. The crown in the story is actually not cold, it's fiery. It's heavy because it's carved from solid stone, but the idea that it's heavy doesn't seem to be important to the story (unless we presume that part of the PC's defense for being framed in the crown's theft is that they can't lift it). So, it's there, sure, and in some places that might be good enough, but DhaC does it better, so advantage to the cows on this one.

Subpar Hero
Cold Crown's subpar hero is a corrupt champion of the giants who sabotages his own performance in the tournament because he's being blackmailed over debts. It works, in a b+ kind of way -- covers the base, but the use of "subpar isn't spot on, really. He's corrupt more than subpar. And that may be just me being pedantic.
But Don't have a Cow does it a bit better, making the PC's themselves subpar heroes because the cream of the cities have been getting sacrificed to the Kaiju. It's a gimmick, maybe, but I liked it, and I'm imagining the warty, malformed, and homely band of heroes that the PCs would create for this adventure. I think this might be the most fun element of the DhaC adventure. So, advantage to Cows again.

If you're keeping score at home, we have two advantages each for DhaC and Cold Crown, and one that was a dead heat. Two left......

Vanished Behemoth
In Cold Crown, the vanished behemoth is the apparently stolen worm-toboggan that Koltabl arranges to have stolen from himself. It's a fairly convoluted way to try to throw his own tournament performance, and it seems like it might be pretty hard to hide a whole frost worm -- and why are the nameless thugs who were hired to steal it keeping the thing around? It's just evidence waiting to be discovered as long as they sit with it in a cave. So, it's there, but it could be stronger.
In Don't have Cow, on the other hand, the PC's city is out of sight -- essentially vanished, because the PCs have killed the beastmaster and he's the one who knows how to call the thing. It's vanished, yes, but the PC's seem to have a pretty good idea of where it is, or at least what they need to do to get it back (put on the crown and try), so the vanishing of this behemoth is possibly quite temporary if the PCs jump right to solution #3, which seems likely to me.
I have mixed feelings about both of these, so I'm going to call it a draw. Which means.....

Tomorrow’s Match
In Don't have a Cow, the next match is the upcoming tie breaker match between Kopak's missing behemoth and the Chirops Limbless horror. The PCs have until the next dawn to try to figure out what the heck to do. It's solid, important to the story, and makes sense.
In Cold Crown, tomorrow's match is a little tiny bit less "tomorrow-y" because the entire adventure takes place over many days. So, at any point in the adventure Tomorrow's match is just the next match the PCs will have to take on in the ongoing efforts to win the favor of the giants. I think it's sort of a tricky wicket to play, given the rest of the structure of the adventure, but just the idea of tomorrow here doesn't quite fit the story as well as it does for DhaC. So, I'm going to give and edge to Don't have Cow here. But it's slight.

So, overall for the ingredients I think I've given a slight edge to Don't have a Cow, but I feel like they're actually very, very close. The two each have some ingredients that work very well, and some that are a bit flat. So, lets move on to the other, broader elements to evaluate.
Writing, Presentation, and Playability.
Both of these entries are clearly written by seasoned competitors, dynamite GMs and great writers. They are presented clearly and cleanly, I have no trouble understanding what's going on (I think) and they both feel like they give me a great blueprint for running a game (or series of games) for my players. I think that the place where I can see some distinctions are in the playability of the two adventures.

In Cold Crown, I love the idea of the intrigue. I love the idea of the players operating in a frost giant village where they are not supposed to kill anyone -- where killing anyone is likely to spoil their mission -- and they have to figure out and play the political games within the tribe while competing in the tournament to get the job done. The idea of the worm-toboggan and the repeated races could be really fun, fleshed out, and that just seems awesome.

If there's a flaw in the plot, though, it seems like it's Koltabl. That "subpar" corrupt champion loses every single match leading up to the final match -- and I'm not sure how much suspense there is by the time things get to the end of the festival. He starts to seem like a real sad sack, and that might play him as sympathetic -- and that MIGHT be a fun element to play around with, where the PCs are trying to help him win, but he's still working against it, and they have to figure that out. But as it stands, I have a little trouble with him. It seems like the adventure is working to hard to make sure he remains "subpar".

There's some natural fuzziness in the middle of this -- multiple challenges that there wordcount precludes detailing for this entry. Preparing this, I would want to try to make sure things build rather than get caught in some sort of rinse and repeat cycle, but that's neither here nor there.

The appearance of Isholter at the end certainly ramps up the energy and makes for a truly cinematic, awesome final sequence, but we haven't really seen it coming -- Isholter's massive worm should probably somehow be foreshadowed, etc. But that does sound like a kickass final battle.

In Don't have a Cow, I love the way the adventure starts, with the PCs standing over the body of the dead beastmaster. They're commoners, warts and all, and they rose up against their opressors and they could start up a new, better state except for the problem of the other city and their big limbless deathsausage that is going to come and conquer them tomorrow.

This setup seems fun. The opening scene seems fun. But the adventure that follows is not as strong. The three possible solutions seem sort of wobbly to me.

Solution 1 is perhaps the most playable -- destroy the other city's magic Kaiju-powerup arch. It's a good quest goal, but the timeline is super short for a band of nobodies that just entered mount doom killed the beastmaster of their own city.

Solution 2 feels problematic to me -- of course, some PCs will jump at the idea of stealing vouchers from the poor to trick them into rising up against their own government -- but as a DM I would want to create some additional adventure around infiltrating Chirops to create that revolution, and a single night is not a lot of time for that.

Solution 3 feels like a dead end -- first, it's likely to be the first thing they try (they're in the throne room with the crown, what could go wrong?) and if trying it on has a reasonable chance of just outright killing the first PC to try (CHA/Will save or have the PC's mind destroyed), it seems like we need to have an adventure where the rebellion can provide additional PC's as the initial party dies off, and if the PC who dons the crown actually pulls it off against the odds you've got the unfortunate endgame for the adventure of the PCs watching two Kaiju fight a massive battle -- with maybe one PC controlling one of the beasts. That seems pretty anticlimactic.

So, they're both great, and both have some flaws.
Conclusion
I've gone back and forth on my judgement several times in the writing of this evaluation. I've given a slight edge to Don't have a Cow for ingredients, but it was thin, and I find the playability of the two pretty much neck-and-neck. Cold Crown gives us a right intrigue adventure, good thumbnails on a web of personalities and factions to deal with, and a very tight adventure with an awesome final battle. Don't have a Cow starts off really strong, with a great premise that is fun and different and cool, but the adventure that follows is just not as tight and developed as that of Cold Crown.

When I struggle with these judgments, I try to go back to the ingredients. They are the central conceit of this competition, and they're very concrete and specific as a tool for evaluation. And in that I found that Don't have a Cow had slightly better use of the ingredients. Cold Crown had better use of the limbless beasts and the slippery slope, but the subpar heroes, heavy crown and tomorrow's match in Don't have a Cow are just the tiniest bit better. So, I'm going to cast my one vote of three for Don't have a Cow, Man, and for El-Remmen. And I'll be super excited to be the minority voice, if that happens. I wish both entries could win.

@Wicht and @el-remmen, you've put together two very different adventures and I love both of them, want to play both of them, run both of them, tinker with both of them... Thank you for all this work.

-rg
 
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