IRON DM 2023 Tournament Thread


The Elephant in the Room (she/her)
Welcome, one and all, to the 2023 IRON DM Tournament. Eight contestants enter the arena. One emerges as the IRON DM 2019.

To keep down the clutter, all scheduling will take place in the scheduling thread. Ingredients, entries, and judgements will all be posted in this thread. As usual, commentary and trash-talk good-natured raillery also should be posted in this thread (for posterity).

This post will be maintained with a link to every entry and every judgement, with latter ones hidden behind spoiler tags. Be warned, however, that tags are not universal between the different viewing mediums available nowadays, so use this resource with caution if you don’t want to know who won a match before reading its judgement(s).

The Basics:

The tournament is set up in a single-elimination bracket style, with each match determined based on scheduling availability among the eligible contestants.

Each match will consist of two contestants given a single set of ingredients with which to construct a brief adventure or adventure synopsis in any game system or genre. You should waste neither time, nor words, on overly detailed stats, but you should also not assume familiarity with any given system or genre. Explain what you need to explain, and stop there!

These entries will be evaluated on their own merits and those evaluations will then be compared to determine the winner of a match, who will then proceed to the next round.

All matches will be given a time-frame to submit the entries within. An entry that is late will still be accepted, but with a penalty applied to its word-limit. Late entries that are less than 1 hour late will have their word-limits reduced by 10% (meaning, for example, a first-round entry would have its word-limit reduced from 750 to 675, which is harsher than it looks). Entries that are at least 1 hour late, but less than 1 day late will have their word-limits reduced by 30%. Entries that are at least 1 day late will have their word-limits reduced by 50%. Entries that are at least 2 days late may be disqualified at the discretion of the other competitor and judges. Entries that exceed their word-limits will be considered to end once they reach that limit; we will ignore everything after.
Additionally, each judge may decide whether to take a late entry's tardiness into further consideration when making a decision.

This year we will be exclusively using: WordCounter - Count Words & Correct Writing for all of our word counting needs. You'd think something like "word count" would be pretty objective and universal, but I've had "1500 word" entries clock anywhere from 1496 to 1504 depending on whether I was using a Google Doc plugin or one of a hundred similar websites and to this day I've yet to fully grasp the source of the discrepancies.

Obviously, you really want to avoid being late, especially in the first round, but life happens, and sometimes you just can't make it. In such cases, you should take the extra time (before your next threshold) to polish your entry with your new word-limit in mind. It won't be easy, but you might still win. I’ve seen it happen at least once before (by a newcomer, against a seasoned veteran and two-time Iron DM champion. Never say never!) Even if you don't win, you may at least find the judgement enlightening for future IRON DM tournaments!

Entries are expected to make good use of all of the ingredients submitted. The ingredients should be creatively applied, well-integrated, and fundamentally necessary to the adventure that they are used in. The keyword is crucial. If we can replace your ingredient with anything else and not ruin the adventure, that means the ingredient is not crucial. Keep in mind that this is the crux of the tournament, so don't think that maybe (for example) doing a good job with three ingredients will be enough, as long as you can craft a better adventure! I wouldn't count on it, if I were you.


All entries are to be submitted with the list of ingredients at the top and are not to be edited, once submitted. Let me repeat that last part: DO NOT EDIT YOUR POST, ONCE YOU HAVE SUBMITTED IT! Check your work before you send it in. Then check it again. We will not look favorably upon any entry that has been edited and may penalize the entry as we see fit, including, possibly, outright disqualification. Part of the challenge of IRON DM is in the development and use of discipline in editing and time-management.

Please do not expect us to follow links within your entry. You may include links for others to follow if you choose to do so, but understand that any information that is necessary to the entry must be in the actual entry. We will be reading each entry multiple times and, thus, unlikely to also be willing to go outside the entry to find context for it. More importantly, expecting outside sources to carry the load of exposition very much defeats the purpose of the word-limit.

Along those lines – I reiterate: we will be reading each entry multiple times. Please don't make that difficult for us. Don't bore us and don't make our eyes bleed. Please.


Each of the first-round matches will have a single judge. The second- and third-round matches will have the full panel of three. As I said before, each entry will be judged on its own merits and then the two competing entries' critiques will be compared for the final judgement. In the latter rounds, the majority opinion will determine the victor. Different judges have traditionally had different processes to arrive at such outcomes – for instance, some may use a point-based grading chart, while others may prefer a more abstract analysis.

We will endeavor to be Nemmerelesque in our judgements – critical, but also fair and constructive in that criticism. It's tradition. Even so, please understand that not everybody will agree with every decision that we make – that's the nature of the game. Traditionally, trying to figure out what the judge will want to see is all part of the game (though not necessarily a recommended strategy) – and that can lead to some undesired outcomes. It can sting sometimes (believe me, I know!), but it is a game. Let's have some fun with it!

That said, those wishing to gain a little insight into the judges’ thinking will need to do a little research to do so, but the information is out there. Be warned, though! We may have changed our thinking on some of these things within the last couple of decades!

Tournament Structure:

Round 1: The Crucible

All matches in the first round will have a 24 hour time-limit! All matches in the first round will have six ingredients, all of which are to be used in each entry. Entries in these matches will have a 750 word limit, not including the title and ingredients list. Any descriptions or definitions of ingredients included with the list will count against the limit! That may not seem like a lot, but I assure you, it's even less than you think! Contestants who win their Round 1 matches will proceed to Round 2.

Round 2: The Refinement

All matches in the second round will have a 48 hour time-limit. These matches will each have seven ingredients, all of which are to be used in each entry. Entries in these matches will have a 1500 word limit, not including the title and ingredients list. Any descriptions or definitions of ingredients included with the list will count against the limit! Contestants who win their Round 1 matches will proceed to Round 2.

Round 3: The Tempering

The third round match will also have a 48 hour time-limit. This match will use eight ingredients, all of which are to be used in each entry. Entries in this match will have a 2000 word limit, not including the title and ingredients list. Any descriptions or definitions of ingredients included with the list will count against the limit! The contestant who wins this match will become the IRON DM 2019!

Scheduling, Discussing, and Spectating:

As previously mentioned, the scheduling thread will be used for scheduling the matches.

This tournament thread will be used to post the ingredients, the entries, and the judgements for each match. Commentary will also be welcome in that thread, but, please, if you are commenting on an entry that has not yet been judged, hide that commentary with spoiler tags, (spoiler)like this, with brackets instead of parantheses(/spoiler) so that we can view the entries with fresh eyes!

If spectators would like to play the home game, please do that in another thread.

One final note:

Once these tournaments have been completed, we try to archive them on these boards for posterity, and so that the adventures can be run or plundered by future Internet generations. We make no claim of ownership over the entries, but we do request that you do not remove your entries once the tournament has concluded.

Our Contestants:
1: @FitzTheRuke (IRON DM 2022)
2: @humble minion (IRON DM 2020)
3: @Iron Sky (IRON DM 2009 & 2019)
4: @Snarf Zagyg
5: @loverdrive
6: @Whizbang Dustyboots
7: @Kobold Stew
8: @Rune (IRON DM 2002)

Good luck, y'all.

Round 1: The Crucible

Match 1:
Ingredients. Snarf Zagyg's entry. Rune's entry. Judgment.
Match 2: TBD
Match 3: TBD
Match 4: TBD
Last edited:

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The Elephant in the Room (she/her)
IRON DM 2023: Round 1, Match 1, Snarf Zagyg vs Rune
@Snarf Zagyg and @Rune, you have 24 hours to post your entries to this thread. Please limit your entry to a title, a list of the ingredients used and 750 additional words. Please include your list of ingredients at the beginning of the entry and please do not edit your post once it is submitted. Please refrain from reading your opponent's entry until after you have posted your own. You are on your honor to do so.

Entries that are between 1 and 59 minutes late will have their word-limits reduced to 675. Later entries that are at less than 1 day late will have their word-limits reduced to 525. Entries that are at least 1 day late will have their word-limits reduced to 375. In addition, entries that are at least 2 days late may be disqualified at the discretion of the judge with consent from the match's opposing competitor. Entries that exceed their word-limits will be considered to end once they reach that limit; I will ignore everything after.

Your ingredients are:
• Memory Merchant
• Fading Light
• Labyrinth of Echoes
• Serious String
• Rainbow Masquerade
• Harrowing Reading

Happy writing!

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Memory is Burning (A Ten Candles Adventure)

Memory Merchant
Fading Light
Labyrinth of Echoes
Serious String
Rainbow Masquerade
Harrowing Reading

This is a game of tragic horror. Because of the subject matter of this scenario, literal and metaphorical, it is not recommended for all groups or casual play.

No one knows who made first contact. All you know is that it was the end of humanity. The Color, so-called because they had no bodies but appeared as shifting prismatic essences, announced only with the strong discordant sounds of a string orchestra playing out-of-tune instruments in an echo chamber (perhaps it was their language), were invulnerable to everything we could throw at them. The only thing we knew about them was that they hated us. Hated our humanity. Hated that we were not the same as them. In less than a year, billions died. The light of humanity is nearly out, if not extinguished. The Color has brought darkness. Are you the last? You do not know. Your scientific outpost on a remote planet lost all contact a long time ago.

Your small group of scientists hatched a desperate plan; for entertainment purposes, a company had invented and sold memory machines, allowing people to share memories and explore vast memoryscapes from long ago that were indistinguishable from reality. All of you worked tirelessly and integrated the machine with the outpost’s computer and fusion reactor, downloading your consciousnesses into it. If your bodies could not survive, at least your minds would.

You went from memory to memory, history to history, sometimes staying a day, sometimes years, then looking for a door to the next in this maze of reflected memories, each time inhabiting a new person. Now, you are in New York City. You arrived here in 1982, within the memories of members of the dispossessed African-American and Latino gay and transgender communities. In the last two years, you’ve found family and meaning in the ball competitions. A riot of color, the kind that means love and not hate. A community of people celebrating realness, allowing them to be who they are.

It’s now 1984. Your friends are dying. The City itself seems to be turning against you, with the cold stares of newly empowered yuppies acting as a constant rebuke. After a triumph at a ball, a competitor approaches and reads you.

Isn’t there a sale at Payless you should be attending? You think you’re on the road to being a legend, but you couldn’t make it from here to the door without me pointing the way.
Then you think you see a flash of color in her eyes and hear the faint sound of a strong discordant string note…
You may have won this contest, but you can’t win. I’m in your mind. A little voice that is going to eat away at you until this …. whole … world …. comes crashing down.

She shakes her head, as if coming out of a trance. But you know already. The Color has found you. The Color is in the memory machine. It all makes sense now. The days have been growing shorter. The deaths of your friends all around you. The hate that seems to keep increasing.

You rush to tell your friends, and you all realize that none of you has seen the door to another memory in the two years that you have been here. And then the next day, the sun barely rises. Panic sets in, as people rush around, turning to god or science for an explanation, not realizing that they are just echoes of a memory. But you know what is happening.

The Color is coming for you. The Color is coming for this world. And the Color can inhabit these memory shadows. The cops. The angry yuppies. Your landlord. And as the Color gets more powerful, the very memoryscape itself starts to break down. Each day getting shorter? That’s just your perception of the memory itself being erased while you are in it. You sit down with the others and do some quick calculations. You have maybe eight days, maybe a fortnight, before the darkness is total.

The City itself is on the verge of collapse. The streets are dangerous. But your community is holding fast, and even holding a masquerade ball tonight at the Center on 13th Street. Can you turn back the Color? Can you find a door? Can you bring back the light?

Areas of Note
Ballroom, Houses (of Xtravaganza, etc.), Washington Square, 6th Precinct Station House, Christopher Street Pier, St. Vincent’s Hospital

Find a way out. Live. Survive. Pose.


The Elephant in the Room (she/her)
Two and a half hours left for match 1, and we're still waiting on one entry. Cutting it close!


Once A Fool
Round 1, Match 1: Snarf Zagyg vs. Rune

Echoes of Regret

A 5e D&D scenario for low-level characters.


An advertisement with a map.

Looking to forget your troubles?
Looking to dispel the curse of boredom?
Visit the Memory Merchant before it’s too late!

The Bargain:

The Memory Merchant, Dabda.

A plea: “I am cursed to forget. Please preserve my remaining memories before they are lost forever. Regretfully, I can only exchange a memory for a memory. Use them to find the source of the curse and unmake it. Hurry! I can not return your memories if they perish!”

Each memory exchanged costs the PCs a language or skill/tool proficiency. Each gained, a trinket that grants a power once daily:

* Crumpled wedding invitation. Memory: Dabda reads the invitation over and over again. Dabda doesn’t cry. Just something in the eyes. Power: Denial, allowing the user a rerolled saving throw.

* Seemingly endless tangle of woolen yarn. Memory: Dabda is gifted a woolen shirt by a laughing eladrin, but walks away angrily. Power: Silence, as per the spell, in the face of frivolity.

*Colorful mask. Memory: Gentle rain refracts faerie lights into dancing rainbows. Dabda weaves his way through a courtyard full of masked revelers. If Dabda laughs with them, can happiness become true? Power: Charm Person, as per the spell, to pretend to belong.

*Holy symbol of light, fading. Memory: Dabda seeks purpose through a life of clerical service. The deity offers light and hope, but hope is a lie. Power: Darkness, as per the spell, to combat the lying light.

Dabda prepares a ritual. “I must send you into my fading memories. In the center you will hopefully find the source of the curse. Read this scroll and hasten back.”

The Labyrinth:

  • A maze of shifting memories.
  • Masked revelers form walls, always in flux.
  • A disembodied inner voice whispers self-criticisms and doubt, echoed by the revelers.
  • Infectious and mocking laughter.
Whenever forced to stop and consider a decision, or confronted with something demanding attention, the PCs must make a DC 14 Wisdom save or suffer the effects of a Hideous Laughter spell.

The inner voice and the laughter can be silenced by activating the woolen yarn or some other means.

Additionally, the yarn could be used to mark their way through the labyrinth.

Courtyard Masquerade:

  • Heart of the labyrinth.
  • Masked revelers dance in a light rain.
  • Above, dancing lights refract into rainbows across the courtyard.
  • At the center, Dabda, alone. “I don’t know why I can’t join them. Is there something wrong with me?”
The PCs may engage with him, or might conclude that it is time to read the scroll.

Line 1: A debt unpaid, a prayer unsent.

Once read, the crowd turns on the PCs (treat as zombies) and the rainbows become color spray spells. Their effects might be avoided by carefully using the crowd as fodder, or disabled by, for instance, targeting the dancing lights with darkness.

Line 2: A death delayed, a life unspent.

Suddenly, Dabda stands alone with the PCs in the empty corridors of his mind. The inner voice returns, manifested as a banshee, but with an insidious whisper instead of a wail. Magical silence may be helpful here, if available.

Line 3: Regret unmade, a path unbent.

Dabda addresses the PCs. “This is hopeless. Only one path forward makes sense. Slay me. Grant me peace at last.”

Doing so expels them from Dabda’s now-shattered mind, leaving them unable to reclaim their memories, but able keep Dabda’s.

A Different Path:

The PCs may attempt a different solution at any point, perhaps bypassing the scroll entirely: They could talk. And listen.

Dabda is afraid. Talking helps, even when it makes no sense. “I’ve been trying to change the past. That is beyond me. I at least can face the future without regrets. I release you from our bargain.”

The PCs are thus returned, memories intact, manifested into representative trinkets. Dabda’s also are offered.

If the PCs choose to visit Dabda in the future, they will find that no magical means short of a wish can restore the lost memories, nor halt the decay. There are good days and bad. Eventually even eating requires assistance. Ultimately, Dabda will die, but perhaps not alone.


The Elephant in the Room (she/her)
sport jump over GIF


The Elephant in the Room (she/her)
Judgment for Round 1 Match 1: @Snarf Zagyg vs @Rune

Rules and Readability

Both Memory is Burning (hereafter referred to as "Burning") and Echoes of Regret ("Regret") were turned in on time (though Regret certainly cut it close with 8 minutes to spare!). Both entries came in at or under 750 words (with Burning at exactly 750 and Regret at just under 700). Neither entry has been edited, and with one exception, both entries follow all of the necessary rules. That one exception comes with Regret, which failed to post the ingredient list at the top of their entry. This is a minor quibble at worst, but in the case of an extremely close contest it bears weighing in. We'll see if this is such a contest.

Both entries are well written, organized, and highly readable. The clipped style of Regret's writing suits the surreal, dreamy nature of the adventure, and neither entry proved difficult to read or understand. I'm not a copy editor by any means, but I didn't notice any grammatical or spelling errors that took me out of the experience. Top marks to both on this front.

Adventure Flow & Potential
This is my subjective "what did I generally like/dislike about the adventures" section of the judgment. Both entries here are morose and somber, reflections on loss and death. They both are, in a word, tragedies. Fun stuff! Let's dive in.

I'll start with Burning. This is an incredibly strong, gutting, and effective setup for an adventure. The hook is compelling and the stakes couldn't be clearer. I was required to do a little bit of research to fully grasp it (first in the nature of 10 Candles and second in brushing up on my 80's northeast queer vernacular). On the one hand, we specifically call out not wanting to have to look up too many things in our rules; one the other hand I don't want to discourage utilizing interesting indie game systems and clever ingredient interpretation. I'll call it a wash. In any case, yes, this is an extremely effective setup for an adventure. I suppose in some systems that's all you'll need, but for Iron DM I'd prefer to have at least a little more guidance as to what the actual play of the adventure will look like. Here all but a fraction of Burning's length is spent on getting us up to the starting point. Fortunately much of the background seems likely to be directly relevant in play; I will hope that this is especially the case for the ingredients used therein.

On the other hand, if anything, Regret suffers from not having enough background. We get pieces of the puzzle that is Dabda's past, but it's all colored through his own recollection of his memories, and they ultimately don't come to together to paint anything remotely close to a clear picture. Now, for the players, this is absolutely fantastic, and it plays highly into the foggy and incomplete nature of memory. Beautiful. As a DM, though? I'm going to need to fill in a lot of those gaps if I'm going to be able to effectively run Dabda, let alone the memories the players will be travelling through. How do they connect? Why are these the most significant of his memories? What do they teach us about Dabda beyond being full of regret, something that anyone talking to him for thirty seconds is likely to pick up on? As a central character Dabda is a bit of an enigma, which again is fantastic for players, but give the DM a little bit more. As for the hook, it's fine, as far as hooks. Curiosity is a solid motivator, and I could see how this could tie more directly into a broader campaign (a PC or ally is having trouble recalling an important memory, and lo and behold they see the flyer). The stakes are a little bit wobblier; a PC losing a memory could have a wildly variable consequence for each player. Beyond that, the biggest danger is for Dabda himself, and outside of altruistic do-goodery (which I am certainly not opposed to!) there's not really a compelling reason to either help or ultimately save him.

Both adventures have room to grow, though clearly the word count and the time frame played a role. Ultimately, I can conclude that Burning is the much more compelling and engaging setup, while Regret is the more tightly designed adventure.

The Ingredients
At this point, I have to give Burning an edge over Regret, but a lot can change in a deeper dive through the ingredients.
I'll say that this was a significantly difficult set of ingredients, with more abstract themes than had initially dawned on me as I posted them; this perhaps reflects in the similar tones both strike. Let's see how our contestants tackled it.

Memory Merchant
In Regret, this is Dabda himself. As the central character in this adventure, and one deeply entwined with memories, this feels like it should be an incredibly strong use of the ingredient. However, the "merchant" angle is dubious at best, and seems to only really be relevant as part of the flyer-as-hook. Once the PCs actually meet Dabda, all pretensions of being a merchant of anything, let alone memories, is completely absent. He can call himself the Memory Merchant all he wants; he's not selling anything. He's asking, almost begging, for help.

It's still a better use than in Burning, sadly, where, as near as I can tell, the use of this ingredient were the nameless inventors and sellers of the memory machine that forms the framing the device of the adventure. Now, the machine itself is directly relevant to the adventure. The Merchants themselves? Long dead somewhere in the empty remains of the Earth.

Fading Light
In Burning, this ingredient seems to be called out in the phrase "the light of humanity is nearly out, nearly extinguished". The much stronger use, and I think the intentional use, comes from how the system of 10 Candles works. For everyone's edification, play takes place in a table with 10 lit tea candles; character sheet are literally burned in the fire, and once the last light goes out, it means that everyone has died. This is extremely clever, powerful even. It might be one of the best ingredient uses I've ever seen tied directly into the mechanics of the game. But, and that's a big "but", none of that information is in the text of the adventure. I'd never heard of the system before, and in my curiosity I went to look it up, something I probably should have waited to do until after judging. In our rules we clearly remind players not to count on the judges' familiarity with systems. I don't know that I can incorporate what I know now about the system into my judgment of the adventure where those mechanics aren't specifically called out. It's tricky, and I hope that it serves a lesson for future contestants: outside of D&D, you're playing with fire* relying on system knowledge without spelling the mechanics out themselves. As it is, I'm torn. Leaving my mechanical knowledge out, we're left with that first sentence, as well as the shortening days as The Color infects The Machine. Which isn't bad by any stretch. But it isn't what it could be. Trimming 20-30 words elsewhere to explain the mechanic in the text would have elevated this significantly. Also, the idea of something called "The Color" bringing darkness hurts my brain a little.
*Yes, this pun was very much intended.

In Regret, this is one of two ingredient uses I struggle with, though I think this one is better than the other. The ingredient in this case is one of the memory trinkets, in this case the fading holy symbol from Dabda's priestly days. I think, if I'm reading between the lines correctly, part of what is going on is that Dabda turned against his god because its light could not fill him with hope to overcome his despair and regrets, and that said deity is responsible for cursing him? If that's the case, then yes, it is a fairly strong ingredient usage, made even stronger by the usefulness of the item's power in a later puzzle situation. But a lot of that isn't in the text, I'm not even sure how much of it is implied. The curse is definitely a metaphor for mental health, but it's also definitely real, it does take away his memories and kill him eventually, but as much as we're told to find the "source of the curse" in the center of the labyrinth, all we really find is a single man, plagued by severe depression (and perhaps social anxiety). Going by just what's in the text, though, the deity, the religious iconography... seems to exist solely to satisfy the ingredient usage. Removing it changes little, especially if the deity has no relation to the curse. It's a good ingredient, but it's not essential.

Labyrinth of Echoes
In both adventures this is more or less the setting. Both are maze-like, either literally or metaphorically, and both consist of echoes of memories of times long gone. I don't see any reason to elevate either use above the other. Just a great job all around.

Serious String
This is the second ingredient that I struggle with in Regret, and while my imagination can fill in the gaps for why the story and memory behind the holy symbol would be imminently relevant to the adventure, here I am fully at a loss. Dabda gets a gift he doesn't know how to react well to? It's a gag gift meant to put him down? What's the point of the sweater, who is the Eladrin who gave it to him, and why are they laughing? I don't know. And I don't really have enough subtext to dig through to make a reasonable guess. We're left with a roll of yarn. Granted, the yarn has again a useful power, and tying it to the Labyrinth ingredient as a tool for tracking makes it feel a little bit stronger. But I still can't help but think how the adventure wouldn't change much if the yarn didn't exist.

In Burning, the string is a musical note that indicates the presence of The Color. It's not the greatest usage; there's no reason why The Color couldn't make some other kind of noise, and its appearance denotes danger more so than seriousness. But it is central and immediately relevant to the players for the entire adventure, start to finish. I could see having a soundboard or app to play the note in person while playing the game whenever an NPC gets taken over. Gives me chills.

Rainbow Masquerade
Now is another excellent ingredient use from both entries. The joyful masquerade ball at the center of Dabda's memory labyrinth in Regret is a very clear and strong depiction, if not culmination, of the depression and anxiety that have plagued him for so long. Even lacking any further context about Dabda's actual backstory, the meaning is clear and relevant.

But the way it is used in Burning lifts it even higher. Normally, I am leery of ingredient interpretations that lean into LGBTQ terms (Rainbow here, Queen and Fairy are others I've seen), but the setting here, of queer folks in New York City at the height of the AIDS epidemic and subsequent panic, is a perfect representation of the idea of deriving joy out of a bleak and oppressive situation that mirrors the actual situation of the last remnants of humanity as they are finally hunted down. This alone would be quite strong, if not as strong as the usage in Regret. Add in double-meaning of The Color, literally infecting the "NPCs" of the memory machine and wearing them as "masks" to hunt and torment the players, though, elevates the usage here even higher.

Harrowing Reading
Yet another fairly strong ingredient in both cases. A note about Burning; to "read" someone in this instance is slang from the 80's queer and POC communities that basically represented a "callout" or a "burn"; though it's not a playful callout; it's intended to sting, if not air out dirty laundry for everyone to see. While I did have to go look that up (no I haven't watched Pose yet, I'm working on it), I don't find that to be as outside the bounds of judgment as looking up how a specific game's mechanics work. My judging philosophy, in any case, is you're using an ingredient in a way I don't grok, I think it's fair to take the time to figure out what I'm missing. The use of the slang term is setting accurate, and the "read" in this case is certainly harrowing! The "read" is a little vaguer in the case of Regret but no less harrowing, and I think no less of an airing of dirty laundry for Dabda.

In Conclusion

I'll be honest; going into the deep ingredient judgment mode, I was anticipating that Regret would top Burning in terms of ingredient usage. Burning is, after all, almost entirely setup. But the deeper I dug the more questions I found myself having as to the relevance of a lot things in Regret, and the more I was able to pick up on the clever turns of ingredients found in Burning's setup that were still incredibly relevant throughout the adventure.

It should come as no surprise, then, that I declare Memory is Burning the winner of this match, and thus, @Snarf Zagyg will be moving on.

@Rune, I most definitely do not have any business handing out advice to you. I worry that maybe the time got away from you, and that those extra 50 words would've contained a lot of that connective tissue that I was sorely missing in this judgment. I'm not sure it would've been enough in this case; Snarf put out an absolute classic. I'm sure we'll see you again.

But congratulations are in order for @Snarf Zagyg! I'll see you in the second round!

Bring on Match 2!

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I do not envy the job of the judges. It is no easy task to provide a detailed breakdown, as @Gradine did, and to try and compare disparate entries.

I wanted to thank @Rune for an excellent submission and competition in the first round; while I always try to play with the form and change-up the system, I truly admire such an experimental adventure within 5e!

And yes, these ingredients certainly evoked something ... melancholy ... in both entries.

Voidrunner's Codex

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