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Greybar

No Trouble at All
He's a mean one /
Mr. Wulf


(to the tune of "The Grinch")


That's it, I want to see brains fly. chop chop with the entries.

John
 

Piratecat

Sesquipedalian
Hey, watch me pull on my moderator's hat...

Iron DM works because the competitors agree to abide by the judge's decision. Don't agree with the judge? Tough. Didn't have enough time to polish your entry? Tough.

Ultimately, it comes down to "who impresses the judge more," and someone has to lose. If you don't like the judge's decision, then you should address it with them privately, but you SHOULDN'T make everyone else uncomfortable by continually referring to it or by being insulting. That's just being a bad sport. I learned this myself the hard way in a previous Iron DM, and it was a painful lesson to learn.

One other thing is worth noting. The fact that one person will lose doesn't invalidate that competitor's design skill or competence, especially in incredible rounds like the ones we've been having. It just means the judge liked the other person's entry more, and had reasons for deciding that way. Unfair? Maybe, but that's the way things are.

If anyone cares to discuss this further, please email Rune or myself about it instead of discussing it here. No more snide comments, please - but trashtalking the other competitors is still okay. :D
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Piratecat said:
but trashtalking the other competitors is still okay. :D

Well, someone had better teach seasong how to do that - because if his lame insults are any indication of how he can string words together then I have the final round in the bag. . ..

feh. Amateur. ;)
 

seasong

First Post
nemmerle said:
Well, someone had better teach seasong how to do that - because if his lame insults are any indication of how he can string words together then I have the final round in the bag. . ..

feh. Amateur. ;)
This from a man who doesn't understand basic punctuation.

And what insults? I've been pretending I have real competition for the final round, not moaning about the lack. ;)

-seesaw ;)
 

Wulf Ratbane

Adventurer
cool hand luke said:
O I think wulf made that vicious comment in all earnestness. He really thinks rune is doing a horrible horrible job.

Umm, no. I was joking. Tempest in a teapot, I hope.

I would never trash talk my competitors, cause that would be bad sportsmanship-- but the judge, faceless and above reproach, seems a fair target-- in Iron DM anyway. It's not aimed at Rune specifically any more than it's aimed at nemmerle (in fact I am pretty sure I was blaming him for incognito's judgin').

Hope I haven't seriously offended anyone...

I enjoy ineffectual grousing about all-powerful entities above the reproach of mere mortals... See my entry to follow...


Wulf
 

Wulf Ratbane

Adventurer
Primary ingredients:

Zealot
Stormy seas
Sibling rivalry
Thistles
Dusty road
City state

Secondary ingredients:

Astral plane
Long hallway
Crystal ball
Empty space
Throne
Fey
Titan
Non-combatant monks
Wonderful dream

---- DEUS EX MACHINA ----


DM's BACKGROUND
This adventure is set in the world of Greyhawk and features a dispute between the gods Hextor and Heironeous. Otherwise, the entire adventure should have a very "greek" feel to it, with the gods meddling in the affairs of mortals-- and vice versa. The adventure is best suited to a low to lower-mid level party (so as to necessitate sea travel, as opposed to teleportation...).

Many years ago the king of Petros (a thriving city state located on a rocky isle off the coast of the mainland) was aging, in failing health, and without an heir to his Coral Throne. In desperation he turned to the gods for help, making offerings of equal value to each of the gods in hopes that just one of them would answer his prayers. Deliver a son to him, he swore, and he would build a towering temple on the isle in honor of his patron. In time, his prayers were answered by Heironeous-- but Hextor, always at odds with Heironeous, was not to be outdone.

The old king died just weeks before the birth-- of his twin sons. The king had left explicit instructions, but this turn of events was unexpected and unaccounted for. The poor queen was advised, for the good of the line, to choose one of the twins as heir and simply do away with the other-- and no one would be the wiser. She chose one of her sons, giving him over to the safekeeping of her maids, and cast the other into the sea. Wracked with guilt, she followed soon after.

Decades passed. Under the tutelage of Petros' learned priests, the boy has grown into a man, and is now prepared to ascend to the Coral Throne. Upon his ascendancy to the Throne, he will personally consecrate the new temple, the construction of which he has watched for his entire life.

Heironeous and Hextor watch with more than a passing interest in a temple in an out-of-the-way city state. A bit of their life force resides in the twins, after all, and the outcome of this drama is a matter of honor for these duelling deities.


HOOKS

1) The party's cleric receives orders from his church to head to Petros to witness the consecration of the new temple.

2) The party is travelling overseas and the gods intervene directly (proceed to Encounter One).

3) One of the party members-- preferably a cleric or paladin of Heironeous or Hextor-- is the lost twin. This option will obviously require the DM to rearrange the fate of the lost twin and the story of the nixies-- but it is the most entertaining option for prime rat bastardry (especially if the wrath of the spurned god sinks the entire island ere the adventure is complete).

IMPORTANT FINAL NOTE:
It's deliberately ambiguous, in the following adventure, which twin survived, and which did not; and as far as the PCs are concerned, it is not clear just which god is working FOR them and which is working AGAINST them. In fact, the PCs may never quite figure it out; the only thing that should be clear to them is that they are pawns in a divine game sprung from some sort of sibling rivalry.

The experienced Wulf Ratbane reader may note with some satisfaction the usual disdain for the machinations of the gods.

ENCOUNTER ONE: STORMY SEAS

As the party sails to Petros and enters deep seas, the lookout will warn of a sudden squall that is heading their way-- black clouds and enormous waves. The captain will order the PCs below decks, but those who choose to stay above decks will see a terrifying sight. As the squall moves over the ship, lighting will begin to flash around them. The storm is the work of a Titan, an enforcer of the gods; though he approaches invisibly and under a persistent image of a storm, clever PCs will see his legs churning up waves, his arms throwing lightning bolts. The titan will have little difficulty sinking the ship in a matter of rounds.

Once in the water, the PCs should make alternating Swim checks (stormy water) and Will saves (DC15). Those who fail either roll sink beneath the waves.

As the PC's sink, they may see a large group of nixies swim towards them. The nixies will use their water breathing ability (in addition to the charm person ability they have already been using) to get the PCs to calm down and accompany them to their city on the bottom of the sea.

ENCOUNTER TWO: GUESTS OF THE FEY

The visit with the nixies should be pleasant for the PCs and an opportunity to Gather Information. The nixies will tell the PCs the background story, if they do not already know it; furthermore they will be able to tell them that they remember the babe falling into the sea many years ago-- and how they saved its life. Good Diplomacy or Gather Information checks and the nixies will admit that the babe stayed with them until he was a young adult; VERY good checks and they will inform the party that the boy, now a man, is back on Petros, disguised as a wandering zealot and preaching against the gods.

Like all Fey, the nixies cannot hide their glee and satisfaction at the tale of another foundling/changeling gone awry.

After the Titan moves off (the ship, burned to the waterline, sinking past them), the nixies will help the PCs make it to the island. You can present the PCs with a small challenge here, perhaps clearing another (more intact) wreck of sharks or sahuagin, making repairs, raising it to the surface, etc.

ENCOUNTER THREE: THE DUSTY ROAD

From the beach, the cliffs rise sharply, though there is a dusty road that leads to the high-walled city-state of Petros. It is clear that, short of flying, the only way into the city is to follow the road. The PCs, having foiled the previous attempt on their lives, must now contend with another.

A Sphinx will either settle on the road in front of them or confront them in the sky and force them down. The Sphinx is quite talkative, for a divine assassin; it will quite pleasantly inform the PCs that it has been sent to prevent them from entering the city. But, as always, there is a catch-- answer the riddle and the Sphinx will spare them. The Sphinx should be sufficiently powerful (with added HD or class levels, if necessary) that there really is no better option.

The Sphinx will stretch its neck and limbs a bit before asking the riddle. A Sense Motive check may reveal that the Sphinx seems to be casting about for a suitable topic for the riddle. A Spot check may notice her glance resting on the scrub and brush that line the avenue-- only one plant seems able to thrive in the dusty road. A Knowledge (nature) check may reveal the name of the nearby plants-- but, these are all hints. A proper Rat Bastard will feel no need to give his players hints for such an easy riddle:

The cautious and careless are rewarded with pain; the bold grasp me safely and now: speak my name.

If the PCs get the answer correct, the Sphinx will let them pass. If they do not, they get eaten (or at least as close to eaten as the Sphinx's statblock, and the DMs own guilty conscience, will allow).

ENCOUNTER FOUR: THE ZEALOT

The PCs move up the road to the city. As they approach, they will see the glimmering spire of the tall temple towering over the city. The city is large; lots of people; plenty to see, do, buy, sell-- whatever the PCs have in mind. Gather Information here in the city can reveal the backstory-- though remember that here in the town, there has only ever been ONE heir to the throne. There is a sense of nervous excitement about the upcoming coronation. A good check will reveal that a wandering Zealot has been speaking out against the gods, even (it is rumored) against the heir himself. A bit of legwork and the PCs can meet the zealot.

The zealot is a cleric, paladin, or "holy warrior" about 2 levels higher than the party average-- enough to contend with them briefly, but not enough to overcome them. He is a canny conversationalist and will listen eagerly to their story, trying to determine where their affiliations lie. If the conversation goes well and he thinks he can trust them, he will reveal (lying if necessary) that the heir is a follower of Hextor (or Heironeous, depending on the party's mood) and that the city is doomed if he rises to power and completes the consecration of the temple to Hextor (or Heironeous...). He will urge the party to help him-- his voice has fallen on deaf ears amongst the populace here, clearly the gods have sent them to his aid, etc. If they can capture, abduct, or kill the heir, disaster will be averted. If they can even do so little as to disrupt the consecration ceremony, even this might be enough... though eventually the heir will have to be dealt with...

LOOSE STRINGS

Lots of backstory and plenty of loose strings. Which twin survived? Which god is working against the PCs? Was the Titan merely orchestrating a much needed encounter with the nixies? Was the Sphinx sent to stop them, or was it merely a test of their worth-- and if so, was it a test of their wits or their swords? Is the zealot the lost twin, and is there more than sibling rivalry and the fate of the throne at work here?
 

Rune

Once A Fool
Not that I'm holding it against you, Wulf, but it would be slightly easier on me if future entries only list the secondary ingredients that actually appear in the scenario. (Got that, cool hand luke?)

Again, to be clear, I'm not finding fault, it's just something I wish I'd thought to mention earlier.

Edit--cool hand luke, if you post your entry before seeing this, don't sweat it. I still don't want you to edit your post, once you've submitted it.
 
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cool hand luke

First Post
3rd place contest: wulf vs. cool hand luke

Primary ingredients:
Zealot
Stormy seas
Sibling rivalry
Thistles
Dusty road
City state

Secondary ingredients utilized:
Long hallway
Non-combatant monks


Disclaimer:
I know in a previous Iron DM there was an issue with plagiarism. I'm coming right out and saying that the basis for this setting is from the roots of one of the ingredients. THe zealots were a jewish sect, that opposed first greek rule during the time of the Maccabbees, and then later the Roman occupation. These were offset by another branch at the other end of the extreme, the Essenes. These were a group of ascetic monk-like people that thought that by exemplerary living, and self denial, they could return God's favor to Israel. They were the ones at the Qumran community that wrote the dead sea scrolls. Many of the ideas and ideals contained here are rooted deeply in the judeo-christian beliefs. Whether this is not original enough, or to plagiaristic, is up to rune, and the other readers discretion.

For more on these groups, see
http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/society/A0853309.html for zealots, and
http://www.essenespirit.com/ for the essenes

NOTE: I created a new god here to give him the flexibility to exactly fill the role I needed. With minor tweaking, you could put in just about any good aligned diety, and the adventure would probably be much more enjoyable.

BACKGROUND:
The city of Jezreel has long been blessed. Ever since the Hamanites walked out of the great desert, and there small, but divinely guided army took over Jezreel. For centuries, the wealth, power, and mystique of the city-state grew. There crops rarely failed, drought never seemed to strike there country. Vastly superior armies were rebutted time and time again from their walls. Jezreel was soon the center of culture and learning for much of the world, extending it’s power not by the might of arms, but by economic and political might. The city state held their autonomy for over 500 incredibly prosperous years. Besides there incredibly fortune, the people of jezreel were noted for there total devotion to there god, Eloweh. He had chosen the people of Jezreel as his own, and it was his blessings that insured there prosperity.

During this time, many non-believers were attracted by the wealth and prosperity enjoyed by the people of Jezreel. Over time, they brought there own religious ideas with them. At first, worship of any other god was strictly prohibited, upon pain of death, for Elowey was a jealous god, and tolerated no rivals. Over time, this strict ban on God’s was lessened, gradually at first, until 2 generations ago, Elowey was one of dozens of gods worshipped in the town.

As this tolerance of other deities spread through the city, there prosperity began to decline. First was a small drought. This was followed a few years later by a swarm of insects that devoured much of there crops. These early warning signs were shrugged off as mere coincidence. After centuries of bumper crops, the grain reserves were more than enough to make up for a bad year. However, these droughts, famines, and plagues continued, as did there tolerance and open worship of other gods.

This gradual decline continued until the city state of Jezreel was no longer the shining jewel of prosperity it had once been, in fact, it didn’t stop when Jezreel had been reduced to the status of any other city. The plaques, famines, raids, and riots all continued, until Jezreel was seen as cursed among all cities. By this time, the theocracy had long since been overthrown, and the state was “ruled” by a coalition of powerful businessmen, none of whom worshipped Eloweh.


RECENT HISTORY:
In the last ten years, the city has fallen into great decay. The poverty is reaching near epidemic proportions. Two very public groups have started preaching in the streets that the cause of this misery is the peoples unfaithfulness, and that the only way to return to glory is to return to the true worship of Elowey. The two groups could not be more different in there ideals, or there methods of promoting this return to piety.

These two groups are founded by twin brothers, Ishacar and Isan. They were the grandsons of the last reigning high priest, the only person still truly worshipping Eloweh by that time. He was overthrown and murdered, but not before he could convince the twins that the only way to restore glory was to return the city to worshipping Eloweh. Unfortunately, they were young when he died, and they had no one to school them in true doctorine, which had long since been lost. The brothers devoted themselves to studying the ancient teachings of there god. They rooted through the ancient holy texts, and historical accounts of their forefathers, trying to gain insight on what needed to be done. They both agreed that they must return the people to worshipping eloweh, but not the means to do that.

Ishacar noted that throughout the history of Eloweh, the god had shown incredible wrath at the worship of other gods. He was a truly jealous god, and would freely strike down those that opposed him, or his people. This was exhibited time and again in there army’s victory over vastly superior forces, and the holy wrath with which he struck down other gods. Ishacar concluded that it was only by relying on the strength and vengeance with which Eloweh had struck down former adversaries could true worship return. He felt that if he could rally the people around him, and drive out the infidels, they could regain there former glory.

Isan, studying the same texts, focused on a different aspect of the god. He noted that throughout the history, Eloweh had shown extreme mercy upon his people, showering them with untold blessings. He believed that they must return to this philosophy of mercy. He founded an order of ascetic monks. They worked exceedingly hard in the fields, growing what grain they could, and giving it to the poor. They devoted themselves to the elimination of suffering for the people of the city. They take in orphans, give out food, try to treat those afflicted with disease. Isan is convinced that if the public sees the good works done by his group, they will realize what a loving god Eloweh is, and return to worship him.

Each group has gained a small, but devoted following. Some say they can see a slight turn in there masters faover, a lessening of the drought, etc, but this might just be a coincidence. Both groups have found a great secret, a way to possibly contact there god directly, in his own plane. Neither groups knows the other have this knowledge.

Needless to say, the groups don’t get along. They don’t have open hostilities, yet, but they aren’t exactly inviting each other over for tea and scones either.



SCENE ONE: Flagelatting fanatics.

The party approaches Jezreel, the country-side looks worn down. They pass many abandoned farm sites, and miserable looking withered crops stand in the fields. As they crest the hill, they look down upon the city, and a strange site unfolds before them. From the top of the hill the party can see three groups of people milling about a barred city gate. On the right side of the road, a group of about 100 people are walking, and some crawling, in a large circle. They are all dressed in robes, identical except for there color. A faint hint of chanting can be heard drifting up over the hill towards them, coming from this group. The second group is opposite them, on the left side of the road. It appears a rag-tag group of people, violently protesting. Some of them are throwing rocks in a futile gesture at the city walls. Angry shouts can be heard from them. The third group is a collection of wagons, farmers, traders, and etc, that are gathered a few hundred yards up the hill from the other two groups, milling around aimlessly, and looking with great disdain at the other 2 groups.

As they approach the groups close enough to see clearly, they will find that the group on the right of the road, marching, or crawling in a large circle, are stripped to the waist. Each of the holds a large bundle of thistles in his hand, and is beating themselves on the back with them. Thousands of dots of blood have welled up on each back, mixing strangely with the purple from the crushed thistle flowers. A few of them seem to have passed out cold. They are chanting, “Forgive us our sins, oh most high, forgive us our transgression, most holy one, look once again with mercy and love on your people. Allow us to be your loving hand to our neighbors”

This is contrasted by the group across from them. They are on the edge of a riot. They are all yelling screaming at the top of there lungs, obscenity laced threats against the infidels now ruling the city. The city guards standing atop of the walls seem remarkably unplussed about all this, as if this is nothing new to them. As they approach, they will notice that both groups bear prominent displays of the same holy symbol, a triangle embedded in a square. They same outline is presented in both groups, but the make up is as varied as the groups. The self flagellating groups symbols has a square made up of branches of wheat, with an inner triangle composed of a spoon, a hand reaching out in help, and a thistle branch. The more violent group’s symbols are made of an outer square of swords, and an inner triangle of a smashed idol, a lightning bolt, and a rope tied into a noose.


PLAYER INTRODUCTIONS/HOOKS

The hooks presented depend greatly on whether or not the party has a cleric or paladin of Eloweh in the group.

If the party DOES have a cleric or paladin of Eloweh:

When they approach the 3 groups, the collection of annoyed farmers, and traders seeking entrance into the city will treat them very brusquely. If asked about the two groups, the nod toward the party member, and say, “ask him, he’s one of those quacks”

The guards at the gate, if they can recognize him from his deities symbol, will refuse to let him in.

Both of the two groups will approach the character as soon as they see recognize him, he will be treated with respect, and a hint of suspicion. Any show of divine power totally erases this skepticism and turns it into enthusiastic support. It has been a long time since anyone with true faith and divine abilities came into town. Both groups will explain how they are fervently working to restore the true worship of Eloweh, and how the others is a hopeful misguided attempt, that is bordering on blasphemy, and will ask the cleric to help them restore Eloweh to his correct status. The groups there will ask them to come with them to talk to their leader.

If there is not a holy man of Eloweh in the group, all three groups will react much differently. The farmers will be fairly conversational, since they are bored and tired of waiting, explaining how the two groups want to convert everyone to there crazy old god, and that the gates will be closed until the zealots, which usually happens after an hour or so, and the drunks they dragged out of bars sober up. Most of the people in that group are not actual members of the Ishacars, but some of the destitute they have whipped into a frenzy. Sizing up the party, the will inform them casually that the ruling council has been putting out feelers for adventurers such as them, but they don’t know why. If they approach either one of the groups, they will immediately be evangelized too. Depending on the group, either with an good old fashioned fire and brimstone, screaming at the top of their lungs, and pious outreachings, attempting to convince them that there god of mercy wanted nothing more than to improve there lives. I don’t envision either approach being very effective to your standard adventurers. If they do seem open to these ministrations, they will be asked to come with them, back to meet the heads of there order, so they can receive further instructions.

If the party does not follow either the zealots or the pacifist monks, in a few hours, the crowd will disperse, and the guards will open the gates to the cities. The guard will stop them on the way in, eyeing them carefully, and saying, “we don’t see many like you here, now that we have fallen on hard times. Our leaders have been searching for some such as you, for possible gainful employment, would you meet with them?”

When the party meets with the leader (an old rich trader, who has gotten wealthy despite the hard times) he explains how that the groups are getting a little out of control, both pose a danger to the town by there over-zealousness. There are rumors floating that one or both has found something that could fundamentally shift the power structure. He doesn’t know what it is, but asks them to investigate. He says that either group will be willing to take them in if they show interest in becoming believers. He says he will pay them if they can thwart both of the groups plans, and keep it a secret from the public. He makes it clear he has no problem with religion, just that the fanaticism is leading to more hardship in these already difficult times.


SCENE 2: Meeting the fanatics

If the party winds up with the flagellating monks, they are brought to a compound a few miles outside of town. There are no walls, and the buildings there are simple in the extreme. They few poor huts are surrounded by fields, most of which grow wheat, corn, and other food grains, but one large one is planted with nothing but thistle. Only the thistle seems to be growing well. They are introduced to a man wearing a red robe, the only one in that color they have seen. He introduces himself as Isan, founder and leader of the group, which sought only to return the gracious blessings of Eloweh to the people, by showing them acts of love as much as they were able. He will point out to the fields, and explain how what little food they can grow is sent to feed the poor, to the largest building on the grounds, which is a crude hospital for those with disease, and to a group of orphaned children they have adopted. He further explains how Eloweh is all merciful, and they hope that his favor will return to them by showing mercy. He quotes large amount of scripture to support his standings, He goes onto say how his brother, Ishacar has a following that focus’s quite incorrectly on the judgment and righteous anger of god, but that this will surely not bring the blessings of there god back.

Ishan then explains that he thinks they have a way of returning God’s grace to the people. Through the study of ancient texts, they came across an artifact of great power, called misericordia. ( a knowledge religion check will let the party members know that this means ‘mercy” make it harder for a non eloweh worshipper) The artifact is an open hand, held out in a helping gesture. This artifact opens a direct pathway to the god’s home plane. They hoped to contact there god, and find out what penance must be paid to restore them to his graces. “two of my most devout followers have gone through, and not returned, but that they were simple farmers, not a devout holy warrior such as yourself. He then asks them to face there god, and bring news of what is needed. (any cleric or paladin worth his salt should jump at this chance!) If this is the case, skip to scene 3.

If they are trying to steal the object, it is kept in a room underneath the altar in there makeshift temple. The room is heavily guarded with traps designed to hold prisoners, but not to hurt them.

If they go to the zealots first, the scene will be much the same. They will be introduced to Ishacar, who is sitting in a hastily built log cabin in the forest. The walls are covered with writings screaming out god’s wrath from various religious texts. They will be brought to ishacar, who will do the same song and dance number about how they must use righteous wrath to restore Eloweh, and how his brother is so incredibly misguided.
He too will tell how they found an artifact, this one called Ira (a hand closed in a fist dc to know meaning is wrath) and say that he needs them to find out who must be laid low as vengeance for Eloweh..

If there is a cleric of Eloweh in the group, they will be continued to be treated with the utmost respect, and even looked upon as living saints.

At any time during either of these speeches, a follower of Eloweh can make an easy knowledge religion check to realize that neither side is aware of the whole truth, that Eloweh is not either or, but both.

If the parties also try to steal this piece, it of course will be guarded quite, well, zealously.

If the parties manage to get both of the pieces, as soon as they are brought within 10’ of each other, they are drawn slowly together by an unstoppable force. The two hands fuse together, and, in a brilliant flash, all of those within 30’ are transported to scene 3: (could be a lot of fun if they are stealing one of them, and bring a whole group of others along with them!

Scene 3: Contrado Fidelis
When the party arrives, either by allowing Issan or issacar to transport them there, they arrive at the edge of a huge ocean, they are standing on top of the first row of sea dunes. The sky is a vivid purple color, filled with red, roiling clouds. The sea is tossed and turned by waves of incredible proportions. The dune is cut by a road that they are standing on. The road reaches down to the beach, where a small pier is stationed, the only visible thing in any direction on the beach. A small boat sail boat is tethered there, with the words Contrado Fidelis written across her bow (knowledge religion check, faithful deliverer) it is inconceivable how the huge waves and howling wind haven’t torn both the boat and the ship apart yet.

In the other direction the road stretches seemingly endlessly across a flat plain. No building are in site. A few hundred yards down the road, the dunes end, and fields take over, the fields go on forever in both directions, they are filled with huge versions of the thistles seen previously, these thistles are easily 9 feet high.

From where they are, they can see in the dusty road many sets of footprints, of every known, and some unknown race. As to why they are not blown away by the howling wind, who knows. Half of the footprints lead to the dock, the other half up the road.

The pc’s have 2 choices, the boat or the road. If they choose the road, they start walking along the road, it appears to be a small, dusty road, when they reach the thistle patches, they notice a number of prints wandering off to either side, and disappearing into the thistles. The futher they walk the fewer prints are on the main road, as occasionally they head off into the thistles. If they stay on the road, the scene is monotonous, they simply don’t seem to get anywhere, If it wasn’t for the beach fading behind them, and the lessening of the winds, it would seem they aren’t moving at all.

If they walk into the thistles, they will first be hampered in there movement, as the thistles are incredibly thick. Maximum speed is 20, each 20’ causes 2 points subdual damage from the numerous scratches received. After moving 80’ into the thistles, they abruptly stop (even though there was no break visible from the road) Ahead of them is a huge temple, emblazoned with the true symbol of Ehoweh over 2 massive doors. (next scene)

Should they choose to go towards the boat, they notice, that, despite the savage wind blowing into land, the sail is full, going the opposite direction, and, that while it moves with the wave action, it’s not near as violent as it should be in the huge waves. If they cast off, the boat takes off like a locomotive, slow at first, simply plowing straight through the large waves, something no boat it’s size should do. It continues, building speed, till it is nearly flying, only skimming the top of the water. As it goes out, the storm dies down, and soon they come to a craggy island. All that is visible is a small pier like the one they left, and a steep staircase cut in the rock. At the top of the stair case is a massive temple.

SCENE 4:
Uproaching the temple, they see 2 massive doors, one black door with “my wrath” written over it, one white door with “my mercy”. A large on the floor in front of the door is an inscription, saying “Know ME truly and thou shalt choose wisely”

Hopefully this will provide a great quandary for the party.

However, upon opening the door, they will find it doesn’t matter. Inside the door is an eternally long hallway, 20 feet across, both doors open up to the same place. The floor is a swirl of black and white, there are no visible doors on either side. Shortly after the party walks through, they will feel the temperature beginning to drop. Regardless of whether they walk, or stay still, it gets cool, then cold. Soon it is raining, then sleeting, then snowing. When the snow starts, they can hear a faint voice ahead of them, but can’t make out the words. The snow intensifies, soon they can here not only a voice, but shuffling footsteps. Soon they can here the voice is crying for help, it’s so cold, so very cold. An old woman, incredibly bent with age approaches, dressed in thin rags, and shivering uncontrollably, she approaches them, barely able to walk. She begs them for a piece of clothing to warm her. If the party gives her anything to warm herself, she immediately thanks them, then turns, and, with alarming speed, disappears into the snow. The snow then lightens, and the temperature starts to clime. As the snow stops, they come across a large lump in the snow, the first break in the monotony of the hallway. Under it is the body of one of the Ishacar followers, frozen to death. He is wrapped in a cloak, and holding a sword.

As they progress down the hallway, there is suddenly a noise of many approaching feet running at them. Soon a group (scale size and level to meet your pc’s need, should be a decent challenge) of people can be seen running at them. They are carrying some thieves tools, and large golden symbols of Eloweh They have the symbol of olidamara. Upon seeing the pc’s, the immediately attack. ( make them tomb raiders of olidamara, just for effect)

Shortly after dispatching the thieves, they come across another body, this time of one of the non-combatant monks, he is kneeling as if in prayer, and has a single dagger stuck in the base of his skull.


As the pc proceed, they can just make out the end of the hall, and something standing against an other wise blank wall.
As they approach they can see that it is a person, standing as if at attention. He wears the armor of a paladin, and has a terrible wound that has ripped his skull open, his shield bears the faded image of Eloweh’s symbol, over this has been written the following

By HIS grace, I rose to power
By my pride, I fell to HIS wrath,
By HIS Judgement, I am here condemned
By HIS grace, I can be restored.

(a knowledge History, or religion check will let the character realize that the person before them is Mobram, the founder of the worship of Eloweh, who the god first promised his blessing too, but that, in his pride claimed it was him who was bringing the blessings to the people, and was struck dead for his blasphemy.)

As soon as they a get within 40 feet, Mobram starts towards them, drawing his sword. Mindlessly he attacks them.

When the PC’s “kill” Mobram, he falls down, his eyes for the first time move in there sockets, He looks at them, and a smile crosses his lips,
“Please, don’t let this latest death of mine be in vain, I have know paid my debt in full, and his Judgement is passed, by His mercy, I may be restored. Remove this curse from me, so I may be redeemed. If the party does anything to bless him, from a bless spell, remove curse, dousing with holy water, he is exhonerated, if not, the wound they inflicted start closing up, and he slowly looses sentience, until he rises to attack them again. Repeating his pleadings if they kill him.

CONCLUSION

If they succeed in redeeming Mobram, he rises, and questions them as to why they seek Eloweh. Upon hearing them, he explains that both wrath and mercy are of the essence of the god, a juxtaposition that cannot be explained, and only by restoring worship to the true Eloweh, not the half aspect each had worshipped can they return his favor to them.

He will escort them back to the doors of the castle, where they will be taken back to the original position they started in.

If at anytime, they figure this out on there own, they can return to there world by exiting the castle.

And now the real fun, and real RP begins!!

Now the PC’s have the task of convincing both groups that the true elohim is what they worshipped, and what they thought blasphemous. No easy task.

Of course, if they went to work for the leader of the city they have a choice to make,
Either use the knowledge to let the council know that nothing needs to be done, as long as the groups keep worshipping there half gods, they will remain powerless, or, try to unite the two factions.







There, now I will get down of my allegorical e-soap box.
 


Rune

Once A Fool
Judgement for Tertiary Finalist

cool hand luke vs. Wulf Ratbane

Cool hand luke. You're not afraid to push the envelope--and that's a very good thing in the Iron DM tournaments. I must say that I'm not sure how I feel about the inclusion of links to essentially serve as background information for your entry. Fortunately, your entry didn't need it, and I was familiar enough with the era and those groups anyway. I didn't follow the links.

I really like how you set up the scenario to mimic history from a pseudo-biblical perspective; the Old Testament is a very fine source of fantasy inspiration. Your entry falls safely within the realm of "allusion," as opposed to "plagiarism," so have no worries on that matter.

I have to say that I was dissapointed with how linear the entry was--actually, both entries were pretty linear, but cool hand luke's also has a tendency to railroad, as well. It's actually a problem he's struggled with throughout the competition.

Wulf's hooks, on the other hand are generally nice, given the tone of the adventure that they are introducing. That's not to say that his entry is spotless. While I love the feel of the story--greek epic combined with greek drama--The actual inclusion of a deus ex machina in the first encounter, while thematically appropriate, is not going to go over well with most groups.

However, I really love the flavor of his scenario. Many of the ingredients suggested a greek flavor, meaning I was expecting to see it. Failing to surprise me on that point, could be risky--if you're going to do it, you'd better do it very well. Guess what? Wulf did it very well. There's a lot for me to say about this, so I'll get back to it.

Wulf's also got a great deal of questions for the PCs to follow up on after the adventure and good questions, at that. Which brings up a point, I suppose. A good adventure should potentially be the seed of a good campaign. Wulf does this very well.

Cool hand luke's scenario is a bit different. There are a few good plot hooks to pick up on, but the scenario is (or could be) more or less a whole campaign, all by itself.

Both entries use the ingredients fairly well, although I must emphasize that Wulf manages to make all of his ingredients fit the Greek theme very well--even the more generic ones.

I really like cool hand luke's zealot(s). It's good to see him allude to their historical roots. The dusty road and the stormy seas are both fairly minor in significance in his entry, but fit the tone well. The stormy seas, in particular, are a nice image. The sibling rivalry ingredient is quite nice--Biblical history is rife with tales of sibling divisions altering the fates of lines of people to come.

None of the rest of cool hand luke's ingredients were particularly inspiring, but neither were they actually poorly used.

Wulf's zealot is also very nice. He's sort of a Tiresias in reverse. And, not in reverse. His use of the sibling rivalry is excellent and two-fold. Like most classical greek literature, the divine is mirrored in the human. Converting the classical Greyhawk gods into Greek gods, without actually changing their natures, is brilliance that few literary giants would be able to match. There's little point in going into detail about the other ingredients--they're all well blended into the theme, and none of them are used poorly.

So, let's see just who is Iron DM Summer 2003's Tertiary Champion, shall we?

What can I say?

Cool hand luke, you have amazingly good ideas. But your execution could really use some honing. If you don't mind a little advice, I'll suggest some areas you should focus on.

Work on developing free-formed, organic adventures; you've got all of the basics you need for this--you're particularly good with setting up political intrigue, for instance--but you then tend to squander it with linear and even railroading scenarios. Learn to trust players when you're designing. I want to see you in future tournaments. I expect to see you do well. But you've got to refine. Obviously, you've got a lot going for you--otherwise you'd never have made it this far, so keep on trying. You've definitely got what it takes to be a champion.

Wulf, my advice to you: is nothing. You're already championship material. You've just gotten some unlucky breaks in important matches. I have no doubt I'll see you win one of these tournaments one day.

On to the matter at hand...

Cool hand luke, I know that this is going to sting a bit, because it has been my downfall in more than one tournament--but your scenario is way too ambitious in scope. Seasong was able to pull off making a single adventure into a whole campaign, but this entry couldn't do it. There are a lot of wonderful ideas in here, but the overall adventure needed a good restructuring.

Wulf's scenario, while not absolutely perfect, is as close to a literary masterpiece as I've seen an entry get to. It's an outstanding work, and in a competition filled with excellent works, that says a lot. It's a brilliant work, and it should therefore be no surprise that Wulf Ratbane wins this match to become the Iron DM Summer 2003's Tertiary Champion.

Congratulations, Wulf!
 

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Rune

Once A Fool
Oh, one more thing.

Wulf, that entry is a perfect example of exactly why I wanted to do an extra match to determine a 3rd-place winner.
 


cool hand luke

First Post
thanks Rune, I really appreciate your time in this, and it has helped me grow.

I knew from the start that this thing was way way way to long. However, as I said, I'm a theology nut, and 2 of your ingredients hit on a very sore spot with me, one, in fact, I had just done several day research on, and prepared a very lengthy bible study about. I knew I was biting off more than I could chew, but decided to do it anyway.

My original idea was to have this be much more of a moral dilemna, which of the 3 groups should I help, but that just got WAY WAY WAY to long, and I had to cut it back, which turned it from a nice moral dilemna plot into a quick trip on charlie the choo-choo, or maybe blain-the-train, hurtling down the track, with only one stop at the end


I also thought I was way to heavy handed with some of the allusions.

didn't think that including the links would be a problem, but it was inappropriate.
 

seasong

First Post
I don't think links are inappropriate - I included one in round 2 myself. However, I do think that the scenario needs to be able to stand up without them, which cool hand luke's did.

My link was to St Margaret, for those interested - but there was no reason in the scenario to care about who she was, or why a monastery was named after her. Everything important about her, I included in the scenario.

Cool hand luke's link was even more harmless - he was linking to the sources he was drawing on in the disclaimer, in case there was a question of plagiarism. Not only is that perfectly appropriate, it's the right thing to do given his concerns.

Edit: One more thing in cool hand luke's defense... the stuff at the end of the link that was used in the scenario is written up in the scenario.
 
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Wulf Ratbane

Adventurer
Thanks, Talix.

I think Rune's praise for my entry is way over the top and gives me way too much credit where it isn't due and not enough credit where it is appropriate. I had hoped he'd call me out on this one.

So what am I most proud of? That I finally took the meta-game of Iron DM, and the judge's whims, into consideration. I completely whored myself out from the get-go. From the classical epic backstory (that the PCs may or may not ever discover), to the repeated use of deus ex machina-- and hey! I won!

So... It was a bit of a blending of my own preferred style with what I felt the judge would appreciate. An evocative scene or two... Some combat/conflict... A riddle... But these are mere deceptions to fool players like myself.

The PCs appear to have choices, but it really doesn't matter what they do. I even went so far as to admit that right up front-- it doesn't even matter which deity is behind the "hooks" and calamaties that befall the PCs! The adventure is designed not to care. There's a lot of setup, a lot of really nothing at all for the PCs to do, and they are herded onto the stage at the end of the entry, the beginning of the real adventure-- just like the entry that bested me in the round before. The adventure is one long, protracted hook that pulls the party onto the stage at the end. The loose threads? The unanswered questions? In my opinion, the truly satisfying adventure lies in what was not addressed in my entry, in those few lines tacked onto the end.

I am pleased with the entry? Yes.

Is this an adventure that folks will Yoink! and run for their players? Probably not.

Where do I send away for my "I am an Iron DM whore?" pin? ;)


Wulf
 

Greybar

No Trouble at All
Wow, trying to catch up is getting tougher as the entries get longer. :D

Bear with me for a background story then:

When I wrote entries, they were often originally written in a few Memo entries in my Palm. That's 4K characters per entry - call it 1000 words per memo. I figured that was a good limit to force me to be concise. Looking at my old entries on the Palm I see that they took 3 or 4 memos (3-4 thousand words).

By comparison, I wrote a short adventure with all the notes on my Palm. Everything I needed for a game that ended up taking 3 sessions of 4-5 hours (e.g. character-specific background handouts, stat blocks for all opponents). That took 20 memo entries - though not all were maxed out to their 4K limit.

Glancing at the last couple entries, I think they're becoming more akin to the latter than the former. Many of the entries I've ready in this Summer Iron DM have been incredible. Good stuff. But is this the direction we want to go?

What I see is a drift towards having contestants write the full adventure that really needs a few stat blocks before being mailed in to Dungeon magazine or submitted to a third-party publisher.

Is that what is desired by the players, judge and spectators?

John
 

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