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IRON DM General Discussion

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
Taking @el-remmen's suggestion into account, I've moved our more general discussion to a new thread.

My own purpose: building an interesting and exciting IRON DM spinoff for the summer. On the table right now are two main ideas. Perhaps I'll start a poll thread at some point to gauge general interest, but for now it seems like we can one of two directions:
*Game Design - Likely limited to D&D5e. Requires game mastery, balance. Potential to tie-in with ENWorld's Level Up? Creativity tested, but design skill is at the forefront.
*World Building - Ecology and storytelling over mechanics. System and genre neutral. Creativity spotlighted. Seems the more popular idea so far.

I'm of two minds myself; as IRON DM is typically not about game mechanics much at all, a world building competition would remain in line with that spirit, while a game design competition would set it apart from its older cousin.

Beyond that, we need to determine a structure (weekly challenges with a single elimination is the most common I've seen suggested so far), and, perhaps most importantly, a pithy name for our new spinoff ;)
 

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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
In terms of the spin-off format that was discussed in the other thread:

I think weekly is too much to ask of all the contestants and I think any multi-week seasonal structure should be built with everyone getting one "bye" they can use to skip any challenge after the first and before the semi-finals because life is life and stuff happens and would save the issue of rescheduling for up to 12 other people.

My other suggestion is to do some kind of week on / week off and give each challenge a week to give people time to work and judges time to judge.

Week One: First Challenge is announced
Week Two: Weak One challenge due.
Week Three: Week One winners announced, Second challenge announced

But the problem with that is, you'd have to drop two people each time to keep the whole thing from lasting a year!
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
oh and unrelated meta-idea based on archiving/reading through old IRON DM tournaments: A contest where the judgements are judged. 🤣 ;)

(Yes, there was a lot of grousing back in the day - more than any I've seen recently - and very often by a character or two in particular)
 

Rune

Once A Fool
I have a third idea that could be good synergy with the IRON DM Tournament.

Judges present contestants (not necessarily just two) with one adventure pulled from the IRON DM archives, along with some parameters and expectations.

Contestants present notes for running said adventure within the given parameters and introducing the expectations. Part of this would be filling in the gaps, part smoothing over rough spots, part converting to whatever system (ideally, without emphasis on the mechanics – more like consideration for how spells work, or whatever).

Contestants would be graded across categories and final standings would be based on point-totals.
 


Wicht

Adventurer
A Title/Concept I have been playing around with in my head: Iron DM Tactics

I also liked the idea of building different things along the course of the contest: a cursed item, an interesting locale, an interesting NPC, a recurring villain, a magic item, a monster, and then finally an actual adventure. Ingredients would be provided each round and maybe each round allow the contestants some sort of ability to add or take-away from the ingredients: maybe have a preset pool of ingredients and each round they have to use 1 assigned ingredient and a couple of their choice, but they can't reuse ingredients.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Wow. I just have to say that when Round two's first match's entries and judgement comes in before both contestants have submitted for Round One's last match it is really confusing to make sure it is all copied in the proper order! o_O
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
A Title/Concept I have been playing around with in my head: Iron DM Tactics

I also liked the idea of building different things along the course of the contest: a cursed item, an interesting locale, an interesting NPC, a recurring villain, a magic item, a monster, and then finally an actual adventure. Ingredients would be provided each round and maybe each round allow the contestants some sort of ability to add or take-away from the ingredients: maybe have a preset pool of ingredients and each round they have to use 1 assigned ingredient and a couple of their choice, but they can't reuse ingredients.

I really like this idea. I think giving ingredients in each round to build a thing that will then become an ingredient in the final round would be a lot of fun. But forcing contestants to swap items once created would add a wrinkle. I must build the best thing possible to win this round but in the final round my opponent will have it to build an adventure to beat me!
 

Rune

Once A Fool
Wow. I just have to say that when Round two's first match's entries and judgement comes in before both contestants have submitted for Round One's last match it is really confusing to make sure it is all copied in the proper order! o_O
Yup. Those old threads are hard to sift through, sometimes.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
So I figured I'd lay out what I am in the middle of doing for the IRON DM project and hope that some clarity can convince a handful of people to join the effort.

Currently there are 21 available tournaments/seasons of IRON DM to archive.

I am going through each thread (starting with the oldest) and simply copying and pasting the ingredients, entries and judgements into a google doc. I do a different google doc for each round and different sub-folder for each season.

When I paste them I paste w/o formatting and then I go back in and do stuff like put bullet or numbered lists, formatting the title and adding the author. Basically, make it legible enough to work with later more easily.

So for example the top of each round looks like this in my archiving:

Round One - Match Four: Rune vs. Griswold

Ingredients

Fine sand
Shadow Dragon/Dagon (latter is a typo corrected halfway through the match!)
A dead God
Unusual coins
Githzerai Monk
Maintaining balance

“The Fishy God” ([if the contestant included levels or setting anywhere in the body I indicate it here])
By Rune (posted 29 October 2002)

[followed by Rune's entry]

“Shadows of Insanity” (an adventure for higher level D&D characters - around 15th)
By Griswold (posted 29 October 2002)

[followed by Griswold's Entry]

Round One - Match Four: Judgement (by incognito) {posted 26 October 2002}

[followed by judgement]

My guess is once we are done doing this to all of them we can figure out the best way to post them (I don't mind taking point on that), but if someone else is willing to start the copy/paste/clean it'd be great. Right now I am trying to do one a day / four a week. If some one else joins the project they can start from the most recent and work backwards and if we get more than one person I will break them up and assign them

And heck, if you want to do just one, that is one less that will need to be done.. . .

Let me know and I'll add you to access to the Google drive and DM you about where to start.

(My hope is that eventually we can go back through and pick some of the best post-entry commentary to also archive, but that is less important right now and so onerous as to endanger getting the main project done - so one thing at a time).
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
Yeah, my concept for a weekly round structure was that each individual component would be smaller (or at least less involved) then a typical full adventure. Then give the finalists a little more time to put together their final product.

I was hoping to avoid a bracket structure, that way to give more people more opportunity to produce content across multiple rounds.
 





el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Peeking my head back in from where I decided to start archiving Holiday IRON DM 2002 while half watching the Inauguration TV special thing to say that, at one time I suggest IRON DM entries be 500 words!

kevin hart look GIF


Also, someone (incognito?) mentioned writing a 10000 word! entry as part of the "home game" threads people would run back then (confession: I never checked them out).
 

Rune

Once A Fool
Peeking my head back in from where I decided to start archiving Holiday IRON DM 2002 while half watching the Inauguration TV special thing to say that, at one time I suggest IRON DM entries be 500 words!

kevin hart look GIF


Also, someone (incognito?) mentioned writing a 10000 word! entry as part of the "home game" threads people would run back then (confession: I never checked them out).
I don’t think anyone ever actually did a 500 word entry in the 24-hour era, though. Maybe when matches were 1 hour.
 


CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Some ideas on theme weeks, in no particular order (and of variable usefulness):

Random Encounter Week
Contestants compete with each other to develop the best random encounter. Each contestant has 24 hours to write a random encounter that fits the brief set forth by the judges. The brief can be a list of ingredients, a specific monster or terrain, a theme, whatever. If it were up to me, I'd stay away from making it game-specific or edition-specific.

Cartography Week
As above, except the brief is to develop a map of some sort. See the comments upthread about potential pitfalls.

Beach Week
To kick off the start of summer, the contestants must write a beach-themed adventure. The judges provide a brief full of summertime, beach-party ingredients.

NPC Week
The judges provide a brief to the contestants to write a colorful, imaginative, and detailed Non-Player Character. Especially if the NPC isn't a standard humanoid...I'd love to see functional NPCs built from ghouls, oozes, or elementals. As always, I think this should avoid being edition-specific, and shouldn't include game mechanics or stat blocks.

Free RPG Week (for the week of July 25th)
The judges choose one or more of the free products available for download on Free RPG Day, and the contestants must create an adventure or whatever from those ingredients. I think this could be really fun.

Monster Week
As above, except the brief is to create a brand-new monster. If it were up to me, I'd avoid making it specific to a particular game or edition...I'd avoid stat blocks altogether and focus more on descriptions, ecology, and non-mechanical descriptions of attacks (Writing "this monster breathes fire" would be fine, but writing "this monster's breath weapon deals 4d6 fire damage on a failed DC 12 Dexterity save" would not be.)

Riddle Week
The contestants must create a riddle, puzzle, cipher, or similar brain-teaser. This is always the hardest part of writing an adventure for me, and I'd love to see what others come up with.

Trap Week
Just what's printed on the tin. The contestants must create an interesting trap or environmental hazard based on the judges' brief. As with the NPCs and the monsters, I think this would work best if it weren't edition-specific, and didn't include specific game mechanics.

Golden Oldies Week
The judges pick a classic adventure module that is long out of print, like "Keep on the Borderlands" or "Under the Dark Fist," and the contestants must write a re-imagined version of it. Maybe they update it for the next generation? Maybe they "fix it" with a new and improved version? Maybe they import it into a completely different campaign setting or game system?

Finals Week
All of the gold-star winners' ingredients are combined into a single brief! The last three finalists must write an adventure using some (or all) of the previous winning ingredients: the winning monster, the winning riddle, the winning NPC, etc.

Welcome to Beach Week!
Write an adventure using the following ingredients:
  • Beach Towel
  • Sand Castle
  • Giant Crustacean
  • Sunburn
  • Killer Mai Tai
Your adventure must take place entirely on a beach of some sort.
Your adventure must be 750 words or fewer.
You have 24 hours, starting now. Good luck!
 

Wicht

Adventurer
Here is my first draft of a potential spin-off competition. I decided not to go with elimination as I think it would be more fun, longer without it, and instead of week long rounds, went with ten three-day rounds with a fairly flexible submission schedule and the ability to do some work ahead on the part of contestants. I am thinking it would work with anywhere from 1-3 judges, and 5-10 competitors.

Iron DM Tactics (Draft 1)

The Concept:

Over the course of 1 month, and 9 rounds, contestants use given ingredients to craft various role-playing adventure accoutrements and score points for doing so. The three highest scorers compete in a 10th round and craft an adventure summary using ingredients, including one of the previous creations of each competitor (including themselves). Judges score each round and in the tenth round decide which adventure is the best.

Ingredients and the Ingredient Pool:
At the beginning of the competition, a pool of twenty ingredients will be provided to the participants. Each round, each competitor must choose two of the ingredients from the pool to use, and they may not reuse any ingredient twice (doing so will disqualify the participant from scoring that round). Additionally, for each of the first 9 rounds, the judge(s) will supply two ingredients which must also be used. At the judges’ discretion, after the second round, one of the two ingredients they supply can instead be supplied by the competitor with the lowest score. In the tenth and final round, the three contestants will be given four additional ingredients by the judges and must use all four, as well as their final two pool ingredients, and one prior creation of each of the competitors.

Entries:
Each entry in each round must include a name for the entry and a list of the ingredients used. Entries in the first 9 rounds must be 500 words or less. Adventure summaries crafted for the final round must be 2500 words or less. Titles and ingredient lists do not count against the word count.

Timetable:
Each round will be three days in length. Entries must be submitted within the first 48 hours to score and judges will use the third day to make a judgment about entries and tabulate scores. Competitors do not disqualify themselves from the competition if they do not submit an entry for a given round in the time given, but neither can they score for that round. After the first round, the topic for the next round, as well as the judge’s ingredients, will be posted at the end of the third day of the previous round.

Round Topics:
The nine topics for the first nine rounds will be posted at the beginning of the competition. Judges, however, will determine which topic will be used for each round. Thus competitors can be brainstorming outside each round for subsequent rounds but will not know all of the ingredients for that round ahead of time. Potential topics include: a cursed item, a magical item, an interesting NPC, a recurring villain, a side-quest, an interesting wilderness locale, an interesting urban locale, a new monster, a cult, a non-random encounter, a non-magical treasure, a unique trap or trapped room, a dungeon room.

Scoring:
Each round, the top five submissions will score points from each judge. Each judge will give one submission 5 points, one 4 points, one 3 points, one 2 points, and one 1 point, in order of that judge's preference. Each judge is free to choose however they desire, but are encouraged to briefly explain their reasoning, and are expected to take ingredient use into consideration. In the last round, each judge assigns their favorite adventure 20 points, and their second favorite 10 points. The player with the highest over-all score is the winner of the competition.

Genre and Mechanics:
Entries are not required to be genre specific, nor should they utilize game-specific mechanics. In the final round, the previous creations utilized in crafting the adventure summary may be altered to be moved from one genre or game setting to another, but such alterations must be slight, only altering such “window-dressing” as is necessary to make it fit in the new world. For example, a ray gun could be altered into a wand or a crossbow, but the effects of the ray could not be altered. A shop-keeper ported from a modern setting to a medieval setting would no longer be expected to be proficient at computers, but might still be proficient with building or repairing machines or crystal balls as appropriate
 

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