IRON DM 2022 The Tournament Thread

"Sweet Dreams are made of Bees", what is it with the glorious titles this tournament?! Did you come up with the title first and then write an adventure around it, or the other way around?

Either way, I love how some of the ingredients were combined. And this is one heck of a crazy campaign. Often I read the list of ingredients and think to myself, how can anyone ever make a coherent adventure out of all that? And then I'm pleasantly surprised!

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Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Wow -- thank you so much for the kind words. It totally energizes me for the final starting tomorrow morning!

I have written things because I had a good title (in my professional life), but in this case, it was the decision to make the devouring dungeon the same as the destitute dragon that was the starting point. Then I wanted golden honey to be something unexpected, which tied it to the dragon. That introduced the bees, and then I had the title.


Round 3, Final Match
FitztheRuke vs. Kobold Stew

This is it. This one is for all the marbles.

@FitzTheRuke and @Kobold Stew, you have 48 hours to post your entries to this thread. Please limit your entry to a title, a list of the ingredients used and 2000 additional words. Remember that if you include descriptions of your ingredients with the ingredients list, those descriptions will count against your word-limit! Entries that exceed their word-limits will be considered to end once they reach that limit; everything after will be ignored.

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

Please include your list of ingredients at the beginning of the entry and please do not edit your post once it is submitted. Please refrain from reading your opponent's entry until after you have posted your own. You are on your honor to do so.

Your ingredients are:
Salt-Water Crocodile
Stolen Airship
Impending Asteroid
Burning River
Alarming Totem
Reticent Overlord
Foolish Machinations
Stolen Heart

Your 48 hours starts now!


Rumble in the Jungle

Salt-Water Crocodile
Stolen Airship
Impending Asteroid
Burning River
Alarming Totem
Reticent Overlord
Foolish Machinations
Stolen Heart

Xocasa is a village in a jungle with a large winding river that flows southward into the sea. At the river’s delta are three small islands ruled by individual rulers, but with one First Lord above the others. The jungle is populated by the usual player character races. These hearty people are surrounded by constant peril and are used to living with powerful animal spirits that influence their daily lives.

Oksana is a human prophet, spiritual advisor, and shaman. She is part of the Council of Elders that rule the village. She is wise and kind, but often finishes others’ sentences for them (because she is impatient, and she often knows what they will say.)

Morpheus is the eldest of the Council. A stubborn and hard of hearing old halfling, but he listens to Oksana when she warns him of trouble.

Salakrot is another halfling member of the Council but is secretly in league with the Cult of the wide-eyed Rabbit, a doomsday cult that will foolishly oppose the PCs’ attempts to save them.

Pollyglut is a gnome elementalist who the PCs can hire as a guide to help them capture elementals. She is talkative and yet distracted.

Overlord Groman, an elderly tortle, is First Lord of the Three Islands, the nation at the river’s delta. He is very slow to talk, and even slower to act.

The Adventure:

Oksana has hired the party to escort her through the jungle to a sacred swamp, where resides the Frog of Fortunes. The shaman rides a houdah on the back of a sauropod while the party must walk in the rain. Along the way they encounter a mudslide, a pack of hungry drakes, and a lost hunter from a nearby village.

The trip is two days, and at camp, they observe a meteor shower. Oksana reveals that she seeks the council of the Frog to confirm her suspicions that grave peril approaches from the heavens. Sure enough, when they arrive at the sacred swamp, the massive and immovable frog totem croaks an alarming warning: In seven days’ time, the village will be destroyed by a massive rock falling from the heavens.

Unless the players come up with a clever way to travel quickly, they will lose two days returning to the village, where the news will be met with a mixed reaction. Some will flee downriver to the south, some will elect to stay, and some will join the doomsday cult that will oppose anything that the party attempts going forward.

Oksana and the Council of Elders will come up with a plan and will appoint the PCs to execute it:

1) Capture an air elemental, and they will use its power to reach the impending asteroid.

2) Capture an earth elemental, and they will use its power to destroy the rock.

(How this is accomplished is best left to the council and their superior knowledge of primal magic, but is further explained below).

An elementalist named Pollyglut can help the party to discover that many elementals live in and around Mt. Firespitter, the local volcano. The party can travel there to Blackened Craig, a barren terrain dotted by hazardous hot geysers, where they must find and capture an Air-Sprite with an enchanted net supplied by Pollyglut (and paid for by the council). The Air-Sprite is small, but powerful and elusive.

To capture an earth elemental, they must travel down the west side of the volcano to Slabslide, a rubble-strewn shrubland and find a Stone-Thrower (a large and dangerous earth elemental). They must fight and defeat the Stone-Thrower and split it open with a sledgehammer to take its “heart stone” (a hard white rock at the Stone-Thrower’s centre). The whole creature weighs far too much to transport. Unfortunately, the mission is made even more complicated by a herd of catoblepas that have come to graze in the area.

On their way back to the village, the PCs have their first encounter with the Doomsday Cult, who attack them in an ambush. The cult tries to free the elementals and spouts rhetoric regarding the “will of the gods” and “doom (that) will come to us all in our time”.

Upon their return (if the PCs return without the elementals, the council will have come up with another, less desirable solution involving sacrifice of human, animal, or object of great value to the village, whatever best suits the table). Oksana and the council will take two days to create an “Ascension Throne” (which works like a Spelljamming Helm) out of the Air-Sprite and an “Earthen Disruptor” (essentially a bomb) out of the stolen heart of the Stone-Thrower.

The Ascension Throne can be affixed to any large-enough vessel (one ton or more), and it will become an airship. Unfortunately, the Doomsday Cult discovered this plan and will burn all the village boats of an appropriate size. It may be fun to play out some early failed attempts as the PCs try to affix it to vessels that are too small and inevitably crash them spectacularly.

On Morpheus’ suggestion, the party must take canoes downriver to the delta and entreat the First Lord of the Three Islands to lend them his procession barge. The PCs must take the Ascension Throne and the Earthen Disruptor along with them, as there will be no time to return with the barge. Encounters along the way include cultists shooting at them from shore, rapids, unexpected side-streams (which they may take and get lost, costing valuable time), and an attack by vicious dire hippos. Though there should be no chance for them to break or lose either item, the party should be constantly concerned with protecting them.

Upon arriving in the Three Islands, they will discover that the procession barge is ceremonial and is built on the back of an enormous saltwater crocodile. The players may be surprised to learn that there are no other vessels large enough for the Ascension Throne. Most of the inhabitants of the islands are tortles, lizardfolk, and tritons, and have little use for water-going vessels.

Despite giving Overlord Groman their most excellent argument (the Three Islands are likely to be damaged or destroyed by the asteroid as much as the village is) the reticent overlord hums and haws and expects time to “think on it” before deciding. As time is running out, the PCs are forced to steal the barge, install the Ascension Throne (turning it into an airship) and fly that crocodile into space!

Note: The power of the air elemental in the Ascension Throne creates a bubble of air and gravity around the flying barge, which will reach the asteroid in a matter of hours. Space, too, should be somewhat fantastical – this is no sci-fi – with strange sights such as whales, clouds, and hidden dangers. The asteroid has its own air and can be landed on and explored.

Depending on the timing of the earlier events (and the DM’s desire for tension), this should give the PCs between a full day and scant minutes to install the Earthen Disruptor and fly away. The Earthen Disruptor is best placed deep in the asteroid. Tunnels are carved into the asteroid, and they are occupied by a clan of xenophobic grimlocks.

If the players face a moral quandary here, entertain any of their plans to evacuate the grimlocks (after negotiating with them) or altering the Earthen Disruptor to act like a temporary second Ascension Throne to change the course of the asteroid so that it passes by the planet, rather than striking it.

Otherwise, after the party disembarks - flying to a safe distance - the Earthen Disruptor will destroy the asteroid, causing a harmless rain of shooting stars over their homeland. It will, however, create difficult maneuvering through a newly created debris-field, on the return to the planet’s surface. In addition, the movement of the airship may attract an angry Roc that will come and investigate as they return toward the jungle.

While it may seem that the threat has ended and that it is time for celebration, Salakrot and his doomsday cult will have convinced the elemental spirit living in Mt. Firespitter that the village deserves to be punished for crimes against elemental-kind. Now a burning river of fiery lava is flowing toward the village, destroying the jungle as it goes.

The players must fly the airship to the mountain and do battle with the elemental and its minions (if they defeat it, they can demand that it stop the burning river, which it will do, turning it into a ridge of black rock). Or they may choose to entreat with it to spare the village (perhaps returning one or both elementals, who can be freed from their respective magic items).

When that it complete, there is only to reveal Salakrot’s betrayal and arrest him and his remaining cultists for their foolish machinations.

Perhaps the party may wish to return the stolen airship. If they have freed the Air-Sprite, the crocodile is capable of walking on land, and can navigate the river back to the Three Islands. If the asteroid was destroyed, then Overlord Groman watched the shooting star display, and believes and forgives the party for stealing his barge.

The council of elders will reward the party for their efforts with local prestige, gold, and blessings.

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Salt-Water Crocodile
Stolen Airship
Impending Asteroid
Burning River
Alarming Totem
Reticent Overlord
Foolish Machinations
Stolen Heart
Azimuth Aflame
An Adventure for Classic Traveller

The characters have a layover on Azimuth (D459313 4 S), the only inhabited planet in an unforgiving system. The planet is home to a rich coral reef that is ecologically vulnerable, and so the world is normally an amber zone, limiting all visitors. The characters awaken to discover they are unable to depart because the local scout base has declared the system a red zone, due to environmental hazard.

Azimuth, a low-tech, low-pop world, has a single volcanic landmass in the southern hemisphere. Two river systems (Gonville and Caius) flow from its glacial peak, Mount Killjoy. The Imperium has licensed the mangrove swamps at the mouth of Caius to Terragon Extraction LLC. The oceans are shallow and swimmable, and have abundant fish with long, streamer-like fins.

At the other river mouth, Gonville, the starport lies in a second, narrow volcanic crater, and is now not authorizing departures, since all staff are redeployed to Caius for emergency services. The system’s scout base is a 2000-ton hull that has been converted into an oceangoing vessel, currently 80km offshore following a pod of aquatic megafauna.

With only three occupied locations, none of which have runway space, and lacking the ability to maintain any spacefaring vessel, most onworld travel on Azimuth is accomplished by a single airship, Lester’s Hope, owned by the scout base, and piloted by Dana Ferris, an independent contractor.
  • Captain Dana Ferris. 34 years. 6B9765. Aircraft-2, Carousing-3, Snub Pistol-1, Demolitions-1.
The airship makes its daily journey to or from Caius, interrupted every fifth day with a supply trip to the scout base. Enquiries at the starport will yield one or two of the following rumours (1-4 are true):
  1. Terragon’s drilling has released a geyser of natural gas, now floating on the water surface, which has caught fire. It is a burning river.
  2. Exceptions to the interdiction are being made for ships rescuing endangered species.
  3. There’s a vargr scout who can get you anything you need, for a price.
  4. Bootleggers have hidden fan boats along the coastline, which can take you to the reef and back.
  5. The scouts want the system interdicted at the request of the Imperial legate, who is giving orders at the Terragon camp. (Truth: the scouts want to avoid further Imperial notice.)
  6. Retired scouts who identify themselves are forced to work for Terragon against their will. (Truth: Scouts are being asked to help, either as firefighters or rescuers, but are not compelled.)
Retired scouts will be told rumour 1 by the scout base, and can learn rumour 2 there.

Firefighting is dangerous, and protects Terragon’s investment. Any streamlined vessel can scoop ocean water into its tanks to drop on the fire. This can reduce the spread, but the river will continue to burn until the well is capped. Terragon is using two 50-ton cutters owned by Terragon to fight the fire, plus two cutters: one the surface-to-orbit shuttle from the port and another seconded from a far trader in orbit.

Rescuers will be told about an endangered species of crocodile native to the Caius river-mouth, whose jaws can crack hull plating. In addition to a departure permit, crews will be paid 25kcr for each female relocated to Carradoc, and 90kcr for each male.

Players will need to address two immediate issues, which can happen in either order.

1. Hunting and capturing a salt-water crocodile. Because the estuary is on fire and the only other river is the starport, the scouts will give dispensation to any ship with full cargo capacity to transport crocodiles to Carradoc, which is J-2 away.

Tracking: For each hour of searching, the party rolls 11+ to find a bask of crocodiles, with DM + the highest of Hunting, Recon, and Survival. Basks consist of one male and 1d6 females. The party will be in the burning mangrove estuary, and will need to mitigate the effect of the flames.

Capture: Crocodiles must be kept alive; they can be rendered unconscious through combat or through tranquillizers.

Males: 6 m (20’, 1200 kg).....Killer.....40/15......mesh+1....16.............teeth+1......A3 F6 S2
Females: 3m (10’, 150 kg)))...............20/8........mesh........6...............teeth..........A6 F6 S2

Transport: Captured crocidiles can be brought back to the port by airship, or another means players devise. Males require 20 tons cargo space, females 7 tons. Their habitat must include salt water and a dry place to rest. Crocodiles can be kept in spaces up to 20% smaller than the desired cargo capacity, with a -1 to survival roll, cumulative per week (so females could be kept in an adapted stateroom, for example, if players want to try to make a scout ship work). Assuming their habitat is heated and cleaned and they are fed, creatures will survive a week in space on 6+.

There is a naturalist at the port, who will accompany any sincere rescue attempt, if invited, to ensure the wellbeing of animals.
  • Quaver Solomon. 30 years. 5748B9. Blade-1, Computer-2, Air/Raft-1.
If Solomon is monitoring the animals, gain +4 DM on survival roll.

2. Captain Ferris is has stolen the airship, disrupting all rescue efforts and isolating the Terragon base. She is taking it to an (uncrewed) Animal Class Safari Ship parked on the coral reef approximately 300 km offshore, with the intention of escaping the quarantine. She will invite the PCs to come with her, or be willing to use theirs (if they have a better-armed vessel capable of J-2). If a crocodile has been captured and sedated, the offer comes during its transport, as it dangles from the airship. Getting past the blockade with Ferris will be unlawful, but will be permitted by the SDBs if animals are being rescued.

Dana is by nature fun and flirty, and will be continually delightful with the characters. She is also fleeing a disfunctional relationship with the System Manager for Terragon, Alice Tomoe-Laka, whose heart she Dana stolen, using the environmental disaster as a cover.
  • Alice Tomoe-Laka. 42 years. 767AA8. Admin-4, Hunting-1, Electronic-1, Legal-2, Bribery-1.
Tomoe-Laka wants to prevent Dana’s disappearance. The safari ship is in fact hers, and Alice is not as controlling and abusive as Captain Ferris will imply.

Dana does not have a thought-through plan for escape. She hopes that if she can achieve orbit, she will be allowed through if she is carrying a crocodile, since Alice Tamoe-Laka will be stranded at Caius and otherwise distracted. Dana will latch onto any character who possess the ability to pilot the ship, and do her best to enlist their aid.

Complications on Azimuth:
  1. The several hundred occupants of the Caius work camp are restless, and when the airship doesn’t show up on schedule, unrest begins to foment. Terragon will pay them to maintain a perimeter (filling sandbags, digging firebreaks) but the absence of supplies will begin to be felt in five days.
  2. The comms officer at the scout base is a vargr who believes that moments of crisis provide opportunity for personal advancement. ............................................................................................................................................. .......Aez-ghah’ar. 26 years. 677657. Electronics-2, Pilot-1, Laser rifle-1. ............................................................. He is holding information, releasing it only when asked directly unless he feels it serves him personally. He is also looking to frame anyone of importance he can, so he can “help them escape their trouble.” Aez-ghah’ar is also the one who sends authorization codes for all ship departures, and he can be bribed for a permit. These foolish machinations are unnoticed by his superiors, who are, at heart, researchers who joined the scout exploration branch because they were more interested in exotic coral and giant squids.
  3. If the players have a small craft (a ship’s boat, pinnace, or cutter), it will be requisitioned to fight the fire. This risks stranding the players on the surface.
Once in orbit:
If the characters have a streamlined ship, or are travelling on the safari ship, they can access orbit legally if performing a rescue. If their ship is not streamlined, a ship’s boat would normally ferry them to orbit, but it is fighting the ongoing fire.

The system is patrolled by two 400-ton system defense boats, now in close orbit maintaining the red zone. A third SDB is at the Azimuth moon. They will attack and pursue anyone breaking quarantine, on- or off-world.

Time in jump can lead to a number of complications.
  1. A crocodile is having seizures since entering jump space. Medic-2 is required to treat effectively.
  2. The crocodile(s) are continually smashing against the walls of the habitat, thump thump thump, which is springing a leak.
  3. The air circulation system begins to smell of rotting fish.
  4. The crocodiles need a stronger heat source in their habitat, so they can bask in (artificial) sunlight.
  5. Quaver Solomon (if present) seems unable to keep his possessions in his stateroom, and personal effects, biological samples, etc., are to be found throughout the ship.
  6. The water in the habitat needs to be replaced. It can be manufactured out of shipboard fuel in the L-Hydrogen tanks.
Carradoc (B-764799 A NG) is J-2 away, and has an appropriate river-mouth system where the crocodiles can be relocated. Carradoc at one point had a moon, before Imperial occupation. What remains is a collapsing planetary ring system, which creates the dazzling streaks for which the skies of Carradoc are justly famous.

The Carradoc highport is commanded by Marchioness Louisa D’Alessio. Though a civilian, she holds a courtesy appointment with the subsector navy and runs the port with a cruel efficiency.
  • Marchioness D’Alessio. 62 years. 535ACD. Admin-2, Leader-3, Interrogtion-3, Computer-1, Ship’s Boat-1, Vacc-1.
She is also an amateur archaeologist, and has discovered evidence of previous, non-human habitation on Carradoc. She believes it was a continent-wide hunter-gatherer society, which carved totems out of the ribs of a large ruminant, inscribed with rich linework and inked like scrimshaw. These depict a wide variety of mythic narratives. In her office she has a ruminant skull and an alarming totem which depicts some kind of interspecies contact that shows humans attacking and killing the native species. The totem, taken from the proposed release site, also shows an explosion in the sky. She fears the crocodile would quickly become the apex predator, a threat not only to native species but also to her planned excavations. She is thus a reluctant overlord, legally bound to honour the scout contract, but obstructive at every turn.

Complications at Carradoc:
  1. Moon debris means there is always an impending asteroid which risks shutting down the high port: heat radiators are retracted and so the high port becomes significantly warmer, and all traffic stops. It is an ongoing hazard, and the Marchioness has worked out that the Imperium is responsible. That human destruction of the moon led to social collapse on the surface, and the destruction (genocide) of the previous inhabitants. If they work this out, what the characters do with this information is up to them.
  2. Two days’ after arrival, a heartbroken Alice Tamoe-Laka arrives in pursuit of Dana Ferris. She has left the system under the pretext of fabricating an effective cap for the geyser, but on arrival seeks to detain the ship on the grounds of kidnapping her lover.
  3. The totems themselves have immense value to collectors or museums, if the characters are willing to trade in illegally exported antiquities. Once the Marchioness’s claim is properly documented, she will control all archaeological activity on the surface by virtue of her position.
  4. News of the fire on Azimuth is feeding ever-exaggerated rumours on Carradoc. Some are raising funds to help; some are selling or shorting Terragon stock; others seek members for a volunteer help brigade, rescuing people or wildlife more systematically.
Whatever the players decide to do, on Azimuth the river will continue to burn for months to come, and the skies of Carradoc will always blaze with lunar debris.

Deuce Traveler

Judgement of the Final Round: FitzTheRuke's "Rumble in the Jungle" vs. Kobold Stew's "Azimuth Aflame"

Judged by Deuce Traveler

FitzTheRuke's (FR) entry is a fun romp through tropical jungles and space. Strangely enough, the combination works pretty well. Kobold Stew's (KS) entry uses the Classic Traveller RPG, which was a joy to me since I've always been a fan. I also like the location names in this one.

This match was a joy to judge. Both entries were entertaining and wonderful to read. Alas, there can only be one winner.

I am going to grade each entry on whether or not they made the time and word count limit, each entry's readability, use of each ingredient, and finally the potential for a potential Dungeon Master. Each section has a possibility of 2 points to be awarded.

Accordance to the Rules

Both entries were posted within the allotted amount of time and under the word count limit. Good job!

FR- 2 points
KS- 2 points

Grammar and Readability

Both of these read very well, but I'm going to have to deduct a point for "Azimuth Aflame." In the second section we have a formatting issue with the comms officer section and the following grammar issues which should have been easily caught and fixed:

- "Captain Ferris is has stolen the airship"

- "he is also fleeing a disfunctional relationship with the System Manager for Terragon, Alice Tomoe-Laka, whose heart she Dana stolen, using the environmental disaster as a cover."

FR- 4 points
KS- 3 points

First Ingredient: Salt-Water Crocodile

I absolutely loved the idea of a tamed giant crocodile being launched into space in "Rumble in the Jungle". This was pure gold. However, the crocodile is more cool than integral to the plot as it really doesn't do many crocodile sorts of things except possibly swim the characters back to the island at the end of the adventure. Only one point here.

However, in "Azimuth Aflame", the party is trying to collect at least one salt-water crocodile for the reward provided. The adventure has several crocodile-related issues to consider, such as how to capture one, environmental concerns such as proper heating, and a reason why these creatures are endangered which connects to the larger plot. All good stuff and I give two points.

FR- 5 points
KS- 5 points

Second Ingredient: Stolen Airship

In "Rumble in the Jungle" the party has to steal an airship because they are running out of time and the owner of the craft is reluctant to make a final decision on whether or not they can have it. This leads to a moral quandry and mini-quest that has potential repercussions.

In "Azimuth Aflame", an NPC wants to steal a space ship to get off world due to the dangerous situation. The NPC is not necessarily evil, but she is selfish and her actions and interplay with the characters will drive how the adventure unfolds.
Full points for both entries. Nice job.

FR- 7 points
KS- 7 points

Third Ingredient: Impending Asteroid

In "Rumble in the Jungle", the impending asteroid is the driving problem that needs to be solved and is integral to the adventure. 2 points here.

In "Azimuth Aflame", the impending asteroid doesn't seem as integral. In fact you could take this ingredient away and it wouldn't do much to harm the adventure. I feel like there was also a lost opportunity where it could have had debris falling ahead of the asteroid, causing fires on the planet, instead of volcanos and geysers of natural gas. Only 1 point given.

FR- 9 points
KS- 8 points

Fourth Ingredient: Burning River

Its weird, but both entries use hot geysers and volcanoes even though they weren't an ingredient.

In "Rumble in the Jungle" the burning river is connected to an island volcano. In the last half of the adventure the volcano becomes active and endangers the town. This develops into a quest to save the village, but otherwise isn't integral to the plot. I'll award one point.

In "Azimuth Aflame", the burning river drives much of the adventure and it is much more integral to the story. This is what has kept ships from leaving and what is causing the need to rescue the crocodiles. Full points here.

FR- 10 points
KS- 10 points

Fifth Ingredient: Alarming Totem

This was a disappointingly weak ingredient for both entries.

In "Rumble in the Jungle" a giant frog totem warns of impending doom and explains the adventure's main crisis. This fits well with the jungle theme, but doesn't seem too integral. A seer or some other prophet could have served just as well. I'll award a point.

In "Azimuth Aflame", the totem seems even less integral to the plot, but it does at least give a larger clue on what has happened before on the planet. This possible sin can be a plot point at the end of this adventure or on a follow-on adventure. I'll award a point here too.

FR- 11 points
KS- 11 points

Sixth Ingredient: Reticent Overlord

Neither the chief in "Rumble in the Jungle" or the officer in "Azimuth Aflame" did much for me. Both of them are indecisive for different reasons (different constituents giving conflicting advice in the first and an officer who begins to doubt her mission in the second). Both NPCs are willing to hear the characters out but do little to help. They are both minor obstacles that could potentially become outright enemies if not treated with respect. I'll give one point for each.

FR- 12 points
KS- 12 points

Seventh Ingredient: Foolish Machinations

In "Rumble in the Jungle", a sect of crazed, but influential islanders try to stop the party from saving the lives of all the islanders, including that of the fanatics. This is because they believe the asteroid is the will of the Gods. The party will likely have several encounters with these sabotaging cultists and because of them I give a full two points.

In "Azimuth Aflame", a comms officer is trying to profit from the crises happening at the outpost, and he can be bribed easily by the party members or by several other groups with more nefarious plans. The ingredient use here isn't very integral, although I like how this NPC can be used by the game master in different ways. Still, I can only award one point.

FR- 14 points
KS- 13 points

Eighth Ingredient: Stolen Heart

In "Rumble in the Jungle", the characters must defeat an earth elemental and steal its heart for use in the building of an airship. I agree this is a good use of the heart ingredient, but its questionable whether or not the stolen adjective is used properly here. Maybe if we think of this as fantasy mugging. Anyway, this is bothering me as a player who likes to play rogues and sees a missed opportunity. So I'll only give a point here.

In "Azimuth Aflame", the stolen heart is of the romantic variety, where one NPC has strong influence over a second one. That first NPC might also attempt to romantically steal the heart of one of the player characters if she thinks that character can be manipulated into breaking the law for her. It's a fine use of the ingredient, but it will only come into play under certain conditions and only in a portion of the adventure. I'll give a point though.

FR- 15 points
KS- 14 points

Potential for the DM

"Rumble in the Jungle" is a work of beauty for a dungeon master. You have an island adventure with jungle themes, elementals, rituals, mad cultists, and a space airship composed of a space crocodile. Coolness oozes out of this gem of an adventure and it would take no time at all to load up some stats and get this game rolling,

"Azimuth Aflame" goes in a different direction, but is no less awesome for it. There are no outright bad guys, but NPCs with different goals and motivations trapped in a desperate situation. The PCs are plopped down into this mess and depending on what they decide to do they could help salvage the crisis or exploit it and profit.

Full points to both entries.

FR- 17 points
KS- 16 points


I wish every final round of Iron DM could be as good as this one. Both of these entries deserve to win and I won't be surprised if this comes down to a split decision. I certainly wasn't sure how this would go until I finished the tally.

If Kobold Stew had noticed the grammar mistakes before publishing, the two entries would have been tied on points and I would have had to make the uncomfortable decision to defer to the other judges, flip a coin, or go with my gut. Luckily for me, "Rumble in the Jungle" just ekes out the win on points. Kobold Stew, I just want to say great job on a great entry and it could have easily won on any other year.

"Rumble in the Jungle' was the better entry. I vote for FitzTheRuke to be this year's Iron DM.

Radiating Gnome

All right, this final match pits the FitztheRuke against Kobold Stew in a salty, spacey mashup. This final doesn't disappoint -- we got two great entries -- both very creative and making good use of the provided ingredients.

So, let's get into it.

FitztheRuke has offered up Rumble in the Jungle (Rumble), a romp that leverages the latest Spelljammer rules to bring it all together.

And Kobold Stew offers up Azimuth Aflame (Azimuth), an old-school traveler adventure to amuse an old grognard like me. I mean, look at those single-line stat blocks. That's a system for an era when you had to pay by the word and whole RPGs could fit into your cargo shorts pockets.

So, let's take a look at the ingredients.
Salt-Water Crocodile

In Rumble, the Salt-Water Crocodile is also the Stolen airship -- a fun combination of ingredients that makes for some fun visuals, etc.

In Azimuth, the Crocs are a dangerous and endangered species that the players are able to subdue, load, and transport to another planet -- and that cargo gives them special dispensation to come and go.

I liked both implementations, so no advantage to either entry.

Stolen Airship

Again, both are quite good. Azimuth presents the single airship that provides transportation around the planet, stolen by the PC's contact Dana Ferris. And Azimuth presents the barge (with the attached crocodile). In the end, I think the croc/airship is super inventive, so I'm going to give a slight edge to Rumble here.

Impending Asteroid

I was very tickled with Rumble's homage to the movie Armageddon (we'll call it an homage, anyway), and kept expecting there to be more jokes that went with the film (like, a reward that the PCs never have to pay taxes, etc).

The asteroid in Azimuth was less crucial to the entire plot, and only a complication at the Carradoc end of the action. It's a hazard, and it's present, but Rumble's was stronger and more central to the story. So, again, advantage to Rumble.

Burning River

In Azimuth, the burning river is a major complication on the first planet, the threat to the crocs, and feels important and interesting. In Rumble, the burning river is a sort of afterthought in the third act, the final threat raised by the cultists after the destruction of the asteroid. I found that a bit less satisfying, so Azimuth wins this one for me.

Alarming Totem

In Rumble, the alarming totem is the herald of the threat to the village -- rocks are falling. This is one of those ingredients that could have been made anything -- it's less integral and imaginative here than I would like. In Azimuth the usage is maybe a tiny bit better -- still not everything I like to see, and not as strong as other ingredients. I'll rate this one as a tie unless I need a tiebreaker later.

Reticent Overlord

In Azimuth, the reticent overlord (actually called reluctant overlord in the writeup) is Marchioness D'Alessio, an obstacle that the characters must overcome on Carradoc. In Rumble, Overlord Groman is the tortle overlord whose dithering forces the PCs to steal the barge/croc to complete their mission. Both work, both present a RP challenge. No advantage to either.

Foolish Machinations

In Rumble, the stated use of the ingredients is in the actions of Salakrot, the halfling cultist who is responsible for all the trouble at home while the asteroid is dealt with above. In Azimuth they are the corrupt activities of the comms officer Aez-Ghaha'ar on Azimuth, a complication for the PCs. I don't have strong feelings of preference for either application -- it's a tricky ingredient and it has been used, but not especially imaginatively.

Stolen Heart

Our last ingredient is Stolen Heart -- and with a set of ingredients that have two things that are stolen it had me curious to see if those two would somehow be combined.

In Azimuth, Dana Ferris has stolen the heart of Alice Tomoe-Laka, the system manager of Terragon, who will present some complications for Dana's (and the PC's) escape.

In Rumble, the stolen heart is the heart of a Stone-Thrower elemental -- and it's the bomb that must be placed to destroy the asteroid.

So, neither tied the two stolen ingredients together thematically, but we have one romantic stolen heart and one heart stone power source. I think they're both good.

So, in the end, I gave Rumble the edge on Stolen Airship and Impending Asteroid, while giving Azimuth the edge on Burning River, and a very slight edge on the burning river. So, the ingredient use is very close, in my opinion, but I'm giving a slight edge to Rumble at this point. Narrow, though.

Playability, Creativity, Presentation, and the Rule of Cool.

I really dig both of these, and I love that they're so different. Even different game systems -- and I really appreciate that in a forum that usually presents D&D adventures, the Traveller adventure isn't just a D&D adventure set in space, but it's an adventure that really fits the style of play and storytelling that Traveller leans in to. Great work on both.

In trying to find one that I prefer over the other, for me, it comes down to a feeling of shape.

In Azimuth, the action starts with the PCs on Azimuth, dealing with some complications, helping Dana get out, and heading to Carradoc with the crocs. On Carradoc they have to decide if they're going to drop off the crocs (or keep them?) and help Dana avoid Alice's pursuit once more. It has a very this-then-that feeling, a string of related events.

In Rumble, the action feels like it has more story-shape to it. The PCs are asked to take on a challenge, and to do it they have to do a sequence of increasingly challenging, related things -- gather the two elemental maguffins, steal the croc/airship, blow up the asteroid, and then deal with the cultists back home. That challenge of dealing with the cultists at home feels very much like the end of Fellowship of the Ring, in which the hobbits return to the shire and must deal with the local threats to the shire on their own, empowered by the things they learned and gained on their travels with the fellowship. It's the return home at the end of the hero's journey. And, at least for me, it makes this story feel more satisfying and whole.

So, this judge casts his vote for Rumble in the Jungle. But it's a close one.



IRON DM 2022 Round 3, Final Match
FitztheRuke vs. Kobold Stew

I confess I like both of our final entries, though in different ways, which is fitting as they are for two distinct games and two distinct game styles.

@FitzTheRuke offers us the slightly misnamed, “Rumble in the Jungle” (hereafter Rumble); misnamed because a good bit of the action happens in fantasy-space. Taking primitive island adventurers (primitive but not powerless; these are some mighty mages) and then throwing them into space on the back of a giant flying crocodile to stop a deadly comet is slightly gonzo, but it works here for some odd reason

On the other hand @Kobold Stew goes for a Traveler adventure, “Azimuth Aflame” (hereafter Aflame), which I note is also not the best name since the adventure actually mostly involves crocodiles and there is a whole ‘nother planet involved. Herein, the space-faring PCs find themselves unable to leave a planet unless they agree to catch and haul an endangered giant crocodile to a new home.

Both entries were turned in on time, and under word-count. I’m going to start this judgment, not with ingredients, but with an examination of the adventures and their usability.

When it comes to appeal, both adventures have appeal, though I think I slightly prefer the set-up of Aflame. There’s just something about trying to ship a giant beast through space that seems like a recipe for fun. I’m not as keen on the whole fleeing a romance story-line, and I suspect a lot of players will give the fleeing pilot the slip as soon as possible, seeing it as mostly someone else’s problem. Of the two adventures, this is the one I would probably rather flesh out and play.

That’s not to say I dislike Rumble. I think the cult’s motivations could be better fleshed out, and some of the gonzo elements may not work for every group, but overall there is a real pulp/action feel to the story and if the Players can buy into the story and what is expected of them, it will certainly be a memory maker. But I am not certain that it won’t trip a little bit over some of the elements as play unfolds.

Now, having said that, I think as far as straight up using it out of the box, I have to give a slight nod to Rumble over Aflame. I think the romance-jilted-lover story needs a little work to be more integral to the plot, and the events on Carradoc could be a little bit more fleshed out to give me some ideas of how the Marchioness is going to try and thwart the actions of the players. Likewise, I sort of think that a lot of groups might look for some other angle to getting off the planet, and plot-hooks could use a little polishing to make things go the way the outline wants them to go. This is not to say that Rumble is perfect here. There are a few heavy-handed moments in it where I don’t totally buy into the story-line (for instance, if the council is so powerful why can’t they just summon a spirit to aid them); and as I said, the cult needs some work. But Rumble does have better fleshed out NPCs and that’s no small thing, and it feels just slightly fuller as an adventure.

Which means, when all is said and done, its pretty even between the two in my estimation when I weigh useability and preference. Which means that this judgment is going to come down to ingredient use.

Let’s begin with the salt-water crocodile and here I think that Aflame is definitely the stronger of the two. While flying on the back of a crocodile is certainly a use, I am not sure why it has to be a giant crocodile which carries the spell-jammed ship. Granted, there are some other creatures which might also be used for endangered cargo in Aflame, but the difficulties in capturing and hauling the massive creatures begin to shape the story in a unique way to me, so advantage Aflame here.

On the other hand, I think stolen airship is slightly stronger in Rumble, because it is the PCs having to steal it. Also, the stolen airship, and the stolen heart in Aflame just feel a little tacked on to the story to me. A caveat here, that the airship in Rumble is not actually an airship until after the PCs steal it, which knocks it down just a little, but still advantage Rumble. Likewise, since I already mentioned it, I do think the stolen heart of Rumble is stronger than in Aflame, though Aflame’s stolen heart does provide some nice potential complications to the events, even if I think it needs a little bit of polishing to really be more central to the story.

Concerning the Impending Asteroid, the use is definitely better in Rumble, albeit a bit cliched. The threat of impending doom is just a stronger use than a space port being temporarily shut down because of ever-falling rocks.

On the other hand, the burning river in Aflame feels stronger to me, and the use of lava in Rumble a bit of a cheat. But having the players have to battle the flames while they rescue a crocodile is a nice use of the combined ingredients and preferable to me to the need to stop the flow of lava by battling a fire elemental elsewhere.

Regarding the alarming totem, I am not completely sold on either use as being fantastic. The totem in Rumble could be any sort of spirit-focused warning system. The totems in Aflame seem more suggestive to me of tangents to the main story rather than actually being alarming. So a bit of a wash there.

Reticent overlord is also something of a wash with me. I am not sure I prefer one over the other, and both are used in similar ways.

Which brings us then to foolish machinations. I am not sold on the machinations of the cult being foolish, so much as oppositional. Maybe they have good reasons for thinking the way they do. On the other hand, the machinations of the fleeing pilot do seem somewhat foolish; unnecessary even. I don’t think it’s a perfect use, but its slightly stronger than in Rumble.

By the narrowest of margins, I find myself leaning towards Azimuth Aflame, and that adventure, and Kobold Stew is going to get my vote.

Rumble in the Jungle
Followed the Rules:
6 points
Ingredient Use: 10.5 points
Salt-Water Crocodile 1
Stolen Airship 1.5
Impending Asteroid 2
Burning River 1
Alarming Totem 1
Reticent Overlord 1
Foolish Machinations 1
Stolen Heart 2

Useability: 5 points
Style: 4
Total: 25.5/34

Azimuth Aflame
Followed the Rules:
6 points
Ingredient Use: 11 points
Salt-Water Crocodile 2
Stolen Airship 1
Impending Asteroid 1
Burning River 2
Alarming Totem 1
Reticent Overlord 1
Foolish Machinations 1.5
Stolen Heart 1.5

Useability: 4 points
Style: 5
Total: 26/34

However, I see the other two judges went the other way, so by our first split decision, FitztheRuke wins this years Iron DM! Congratulations to our winner!

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