Iron dm summer champion announced!

Rune

Once A Fool
On the ingredients:

Thanks for the compliments, folk!

I've been beside myself waiting to unleash those all through this tournament.
 

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Rune

Once A Fool
In it's most literal sense--the sense that I won't expect to see in either of the two entries, it is one of my girlfriend's cats.

I know that doesn't help at all, but you'll be able to figure it out when you read the entries, I assume.
 

seasong

First Post
cool hand luke said:
what the heck is a wuxia cat?
Hello Kitty on crack and Cat in a Hat with a Baseball Bat. Back alley fights between soaring felines and Trash Can Lid Fu.

If you've ever heard Primus' song Tommy the Cat, you know where that cat is at.
 



el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
ok, didn't have a chance to proofread - but here it is. . .

Iron DM Final: Nemmerle vs. Seasong

Primary ingredients:
Leach
Lost vault
Horn of Valhalla
Horseshoes
Dark side of a moon
Wuxia cat

Secondary ingredients:
Blind cartographer
Fairy-tale land
Eyes
Cloak of charisma
Gifted apprentice
Terrarium
Cannibal village
Spider monkey
Unfriendly barber




Ambrose the retired royal cartographer long ago lost his eyesight has been dreaming for months now that he could see and was floating over a city. Each dream seemed to start where there last had left off and he slowly floated over the place noting the avenues and buildings and the gates into the strange city where it was always night - but there was some weird sheen or reflection that he could never quite identify. Becoming increasing obsessed with the idea he began to describe the features and dimensions of this city to the current Royal Cartographer, Ehteahn, who was his gift apprentice whose skill he trusted to make an accurate representation of the dream city. The younger cartographer humored the old man because he felt like he owed him much and looked to him as a fatherly figure - but did not give much credence to the idea that this was a real place.

The King's Nightmares

The King of Walandia has been suffering from awful dreams for months now. He has grown increasingly edgy, tired and has begun to suffer dementia from both the lack of sleep and the dream images he has been forced to endure. At first the king did not want to describe what he dreamt of, but as he grew more and more disturbed, he began to babble about the things he saw in the world he visited during these nocturnal journeys. Understandably, the king was sequestered by his loyal advisors, and the ruling of his kingdom fell (covertly) to his younger brother (see "Possible Misdirection" below). However, this was not done before the young Royal Cartographer overheard some of the King's ramblings and was amazed to find that some of the things the king mentioned seemed to match up with aspects of the dream-city that his former master described when having him draw the map. Suddenly he was not so sure that the place was not real after all.

Hooks, Misdirection & Court Intrigue

This adventure assumes the party is of significant enough level and or reputation for them to be sought out to determine what has been ailing the king. Of course, if there is cleric in the PC party dedicated to moon god (the moon is often associated with dreams and/or behavior), prophecy god, or healing god – it may even be that the PC in question assigned to this delicate and very important task.

Alternately, the party could be chosen for its lack of reputation and need for some discrete strangers to handle the problem, who would likely not even be believed if they left to tell tales of a mad king.

Of course, there is also the possibility that the PCs (being of higher level) have worked for the king or one of his advisors, or even his younger brother (the earl of dunst) and were hired because they are personally known to those who rule the court.

The PCs could also become involved backwards – by befriending the blind cartographer. The GM could have them find a map on some unrelated adventure that the cartographer had made in his youth, but that they need more information about and hope he can provide it. The cartographer, at whichever point he enters the adventure, should be played as a man whose kindness and thoughtfulness, only make his bizarre tangents of describing fantastic edifices and landscape features all the more disturbing. Anyway, if he finds out they are adventurers he will certainly tell them about his “journeys to beyond” as he calls them – and will be very anxious to get them to investigate them for him – he does not have much to offer them, but the GM should allow him to have a significant amount of coinage (i.e. not enough to really tempt PCs of this level, but enough for them to realize that this is all the money he has in the world, and thus this means a lot to him) and a Horn of Valhalla – one of three horns in a set owned by the Royal Family – it was a gift to the cartographer when he retired. (this horn becomes important later – see below). Or he may ask them to look into it in return for the favor of describing a place in detail to his former apprentice (the current royal cartographer) and have him draw the map – of course, this will get them involved in the false court intrigue as well – especially if Ehteahn is given reason to trust the PCs –s o he can confide in them about the connection between the “dream city” and the king’s nightmare and dementia.

Court Intrigue: There really isn’t any court intrigue – this little piece of “pre-adventure” is meant to play on player’s meta-knowledge about these type of adventures – they expect someone to be looking to off the king, and will be looking for means and motive –and may be particularly suspicious of the earl (the king’s brother) as the king has no heir and the young brother would become king. In truth, the Earl is a rustic man who prefers hunting with his hounds and horses – who while cares for the kingdom and would become king if had to (just as he has secretly taken the role of despot in his brother’s illness), would wear the crown with a heavy head and heart. He should be a good ruler and kind hearted and lawful good man that players always suspect of being “too good to be true”. The GM should ideally give the PCs all the rope they want to hang themselves with. The castle should be stocked with a myriad of interesting characters – very few of which know what it is really going on with the king (you could even make up an old school “rumor table” with various guards and servants having different theories on what is going on if the party interviews them.

Finding out About the Connection to the Moon: It is up to the PCs to make the connection between the dreams, the dream-city and the moon. The connection between the moon and dreams and behavior might be well known in a symbolic sense – but it will take very literal thinking (something people who live in a fantasy world might be better at than real world people playing them are) to think – “if dreams come from the moon, we should go to the moon to find the source and stop it.” However, there are several ways the PCs can figure out that they should go to the moon.

- A pc with knowledge: astronomy skill can make a check (DC 25) to note similarities between landscape features on Ambrose’s map and those visible with a spyglass on the surface of the moon.
- The Horns of Valhalla. Shrewd PCs might figure out that the similarity between the former Royal Cartographer and King is that both one Horns from the same set. The king has two horns (and has more intense dreams). However, while removing the horns from the area of the king or Ambrose will stop the dreams, it will not cure the former’s madness or the latter’s obsession.
- A divination spell like Commune can be used to find out about the dream-city on the moon causing the dreams – and might even allude to the fact that they are trying to make diplomatic contact. Of course, questions about alignment will make PCs suspicious as there as many dark things that dwell there as good things, and chaos is also rampant –so coming up with a motive or goal might be difficult – thus precipitating that the party travel there.

The Horns of Valhalla & The Horseshoes

If the party uses legendlore or bardic knowledge or some other means to find out about the horns, it is revealed that they were made from the horns of a monstrous horse-like beast that was the holy mount of a paladin dedicated the God of [insert appropriate god from among moon, dreams, night, stars, etc…) when it (and its master) were slain guarding the city from an invasion of demonic beings – and decorated with moonstones to honor the god and its servant. Further investigation will lead the PCs to the “The Pale Horse” – a local tavern frequented by petty nobility and the Nuevo-rich – where the horseshoes that were on the slain holy mount are on display on wall holding a few of this local hero’s other items. The proprietor, Luther deVink, is a descendant of the paladin in question, and knows all the tales and legends of his famous ancestor. deVink can tell the party of how his ancestor’s holy mount was a beast from the dream-realm, and that in his journal he described visiting Nimbrosia, the city of dreams on the dark side of the moon. It is a well-known (if rarely believed) tale around the capitol city, that the horseshoe on display in the tavern are magical, and gave the paladin’s mount the ability to gallop up a moonbeam, up to the moon. In one adventure, to save the Emperor of Dreams, he attached a small wagon to his mount and brought a whole group of heroes with him.

deVink, however, is decadent man who lives beyond his means, trying to a live a life as extravagant as the patrons of his popular tavern. He is a supreme gambler, spendthrift, whore-monger and drinker and is severely indebt. This can lead up to a non-combat encounter where the PC must convince him to part with the horseshoes. (The horseshoes are magical and function as horseshoes of a zephyr except on a full moon the creature can actually gallop to the moon). If the party appears rich he will demand an exorbitant price for them (like 3,000 gps each). If the party refuses or is cash poor, he might take in trade the PCs somehow “fixing” his debts with his creditors. This man has no virtues of his paladin ancestor, and will subtly imply that the party should bully and intimidate folks into forgiving his debts.

This creates a possible series of small encounter or even a sub-adventure involving the PCs in the city’s underworld. Of course, the party might already have the necessary contacts to figure something out – but it should be interesting because there very powerful characters cannot really use violence to fix these problems without a) collecting a lot of enemies, b) running afoul of the law and/or c) gaining a bad reputation among the clientele of “the Pale Horse”. (REMEMBER: Even if the party is working for the king, they are sworn to secrecy, so they do not have the “we are hear to help the king” excuse of doing whatever they want. If they are arrested, for example, they will be set free but after long delays and probably a stern lecture from the Earl and/or the king’s advisors. It is important to be diplomatic.

This section of the adventure could even be a short solo adventure for a party rogue.

Other Ways to Get to the Moon

It is possible that the party might not track down this route to the moon. Here are some other possibilities:

- Teleport. This could be dangerous (though teleport w/o error would work), but the PCs may have the map of the City of Nimbrosia, which could help pinpoint a place to teleport to. . . Of course, if the caster has ranks in Knowledge: Astronomy and a spyglass he might be able to get a good view of a place to teleport two and then march around the moon to the dark side.
- Dream travel. The psionic power can be used to get to Nimbrosia.
- The map itself could be magical and allow for travel to the moon.
- If you want to get really wacky, have them seek out a gnomish inventor who has a pointed metal tube with lots of smoke powder shoved in one end.. . . . Can anyone say, one way ticket? ;)
- The GM can reward the party for some other creative method. I am a firm believer in letting players make up their own method of figuring out how to do something. . just let them think you know what does it – but just let the most creative one work. For example, the party may make the connection between the horns of Valhalla and the dream-city and summoning the warriors from the horn, could dress in their clothes and return back with them when the magical item’s effect wears off (see The Meadhall of Dreams below).

A note about the moon: You should not worry about atmosphere or gravity on the moon – make it normal “earth type” – modern concepts of atmosphere and gravity and the like are anachronistic in a fantastic and folklorish tale like this. The moon should still be barren and cold and stark.

It is possible that the party will land on the light side of the moon and need to march across the surface of the moon. The folklore nature of this adventure can be played up here – with perhaps an Odyssey-type journey meeting different exiles on the moon. Another possibility is that the craters on the moon are created by a pair of purple worms who burrow throughout the great orbiting rock. That would be a nasty combat, but could be a whole lot of fun.


The Dream City of Nimbrosia

The Dream of Nimbrosia is a city in a Terrarium on the dark side of the moon (where it cannot be seen from the earth with a powerful spyglass). While the rest of the moon is barren and cold and stark, this place is enclosed in a great glass dome and anchored into a strange metal protrusion from the surface of the moon. If approached from above, as if upon a steed with the horseshoes of a zephyr, the city will seem sprawling, but dotted with vegetation and strange buildings of odd shapes that should not stand up, and the there are giant lightning bugs and glowworm that give the city light. The there is dull red-orange reflection of these lights in the dome (thus the sheen in Ambrose’s dreams).

The entrance to the city is a towering gate guarded by slender asexual angelic humanoids with multi-colored and shifting butterfly wings (use stats for Avariel)

The party should have no problems getting in, but as visitors they will be brought to meet the Empress of Dreams who lives in a castle in the center of the sprawling chaotic city.

As with most Nemmerle adventures, the Dream-City of Nimbrosia is meant to be a site that the PCs can explore as they like and in their interaction with the place create their own encounters and adventures. However, before they can explore freely they must have an audience with the Empress of Dreams.

The audience chamber is a huge room in a tower at the center of the city. The Empress of Dreams is a were-tigeress who loves to lounge on dais covered with pillows in humanoid cat form, being waited on and pampered by all different kinds of creatures (see Denizens of the City of Dreams below). She will happily welcome the PCs and explain that she recently decided to make diplomatic contact with monarchs and rulers in the “real world” through deams, but that the chaotic nature of dreams has made it that there is a baleful influence that seems to have decided to effect the king of Walandia. According to one of the few rules of this place, she cannot interfere with the nature of dreams that arrive to those in waking world, but the PCs can. However, before she will allow the PCs to go off to find the influence that is driving the king mad, she will challenge a member of the party to an unarmed duel. The Empress is a Psychic Warrior/Monk, a regular Wuxia Cat that will run along walls, perform insane leaping kicks and change form frequently – fighting sometimes to subdue and sometimes doing real damage seemingly at random. It doesn’t really matter if the PC in question wins or loses – what the empresses wants is a good and entertaining fight – she will use the walls, the audience in her court, her pillows and dais or the very halls of the tower, or allow someone to chase her up to the battlements and expects her opponent to do his or her best to make it interesting as well – someone who just tries to fight her in a straight up exchange of blows is going to lose her respect – and she will quickly call the duel and demand the party leave Nimrosia and not return. Does this seem bizarre and arbitrary? Well, it should – this is a dreamland we are talking about – literal sense does not always matter. The Empress herself is languid and affection – play her like a cat, purring and growling and rubbing up against PCs as she talks, maybe inviting oen she finds attractive or cuddly to join her among the pillows so she can cuddle up to them as she talks and maybe licks their face.

If the PCs fail the test of the duel they must either resign themselves to being escorted back to city gates and leave (leaving the king to his fate). However, that does not mean the adventure is over – they can try to sneak back into the city and question its residents and/or physically search until they discover the sources of the maddening dreams, or they can go for the classic adventurer solution to a problem and start killing people until they get what they want. Of course, this latter solution will likely get the party killed.

If the PCs succeed in this test the Empress will give them a good deal of information to help them. She will explain how the city itself is constantly changing and is as fluid as dreams themselves, because things are constantly being added and taken away and changing form or location. This is where having Ambrose’s map will be helpful because while it never appears to change, it is always correct and can be followed to find various sites in the city. The Empress will also explain that the source of the baleful dreams is a Lost Vault within which a dark creature of nightmare was long ago trapped (a former Emperor of Dreams) by a visitor from the waking world (the paladin mentioned earlier, actually). The vault itself is always changing places in the city and sometimes is above ground and sometimes below ground, and it is not on Ambrose’s map – but the map can still help find it since discrepancies between the map and the actual city will lead to the vault.

The Empress will also explain that the creature (she is not sure what it is ) leaches the wisdom and sanity from its victims and to retrieve it, it must be leached back out of the creature in liquid form and then the king must drink it.

She will also give the PCs a scroll with a rambling and often incoherent introduction for the king, explaining how the city wants to have a role in the waking world. (Note: this is just a pipe dream and would never work – but she is not exactly the most reasonable person in creation) She will also offer to have the king brought to Nimbrosia where his madness is not a liability if the PCs fail.


Denizens of Nimbrosia & Areas of the City

The GM is encouraged to make this place as bizarre as possible. The “people” walking the streets should have foot long lightning bugs on strings as a form of light, and glowworms should crawl through glass tubes shaped like letters in lots of known and unknown languages on signs for shops, taverns and inns. The streets should wind around craters within which various quarters of the city are built.

Doppelgangers: One of the common type of citizen of Nimbrosia should be a kind of doppelganger that can only be corporeal when taking the form of a person known to who they are interacting with. This should give the PCs the impression of a dream, that feeling that someone looks like one person but is really someone else (as often happens in dreams) – they could appear as people back in the waking world or someone who is dead.

Dreamers – Taverns could be populated by dreamers – people in the waking world who are asleep and just experiencing weird things. This could be a fun way for the PCs to send messages back to the waking world – effectively acting as a dream spell – easily distracted or mischievous PCs could also try to seek people out to basically make them suffer the effect t of a nightmare spell.

The Meadhall of Dreams: This giant meadhall is filled with burly warriors eating, drinking, wrestling and carrying on in perpetuity. It is from here that warriors are summoned by a horn of Valhalla. In fact, blowing the horn here would have no effect at all except to anger the warriors and cause them to attack the PCs (however, they cannot leave the meadhall so if the PCs flee they will be safe). However, if they simply come here they will ber welcomed to take part in the revelry as long as they want. A possible side adventure could have the PCs summoned by a horn of Valhalla in the waking world if they stay here and actually eat and drink the stuff served here.

Talking Animals: Portions of this city definitely have the feeling of a fairy tale land and thus there should be talking animals of various kinds, both mundane, dire or bizarre combinations – like lizard like horses with horns – Some these might be kind and helpful, others could be mischievous others murderous. The GM could also have a seto f talking spider monkeys that act as messengers for the city, climbing around leaping from building to building with multiple satchels over their six arms (yes, they are actual spider monkeys).

Mind-flayers & Other Psionic Creatures – Since dreams and the subconscious mind are intimately connected, there should be lots of psionic creatures to be found in the city, including a mind-flayer quarter – that might be happy to have some fresh brains to eat – or alternately, the GM could do the ole switcheroo and have the illithids be sated by living in a place with so much mental energy and actually be friendly and helpful.


The Lost Vault – This dark place of nightmare that is always moving and changing in form. The place should be a kind of dungeon crawl in and of itself. The outside is guarded by black and twisted gargoyles, who will attack any who come within the tomb-like buildin’s courtyard and alert the monks that live in the abbey above the labyrinthine vault below. The monks are were-bat psychic warrior/monks types dedicated to the dark creature that is locked within. The vault itself should be a maze of captured and imprisoned creatures. There should also be gibbering mothers patrolling the narrow corridors, and other twisted dark creatures to be found.

The creature itself is a giant leech with the vampire template and psionic powers. The thing should be a challenge to the whole party, especially if they have not had too hard a time with the other challenges of the adventure.. It should be found in a barren damp room, maybe clinging to a dark corner of the ceiling. Once the creature is slain or disabled (which will take some creativity as it can turn gaseous) the king’s sanity and wisdom can be leached from the thing and collected ina jar or wineskin or some other receptacle.

There are tons of follow-ups and tangents possible with this adventure – including further exploration of the city, trying to get back to the waking world (if the PCs took some limited form of transportation), a delegation of ambassadors from Nimbrosia can later come to the waking world and start wreaking havoc – or as is common in a place with a different “culture” and society – the PCs can inadvertently offend someone and create a bizarre enemy.
 

seasong

First Post
Ha. I said concise earlier. I lied.

Greybar, I sincerely apologize - this one kind of disproves everything I said to you.

Anyway, here it is...

Hateful Ambition[size]

Primary ingredients:
Leach - the pumice stone cup, which can be stolen
Lost vault - the burial chambers
Horn of Valhalla - Gjöll
Horseshoes - the PCs' method of getting to Hel or Asgard
Dark side of a moon - the final battle; where Ing hides
Wuxia cat - Oddir

Secondary ingredients:
Fairy-tale land - Asgard, the rainbow bridge, c'mon!
Eyes - how to get to fairy-tale land for Ing
Gifted apprentice - Ing
Unfriendly barber - Thorsteinn (and Oddir)

OVERVIEW

The setting is your favorite Norse or Viking period, and can be thrown against a variety of historical periods.

In essence, the PCs find themselves arrayed against Ingjaldirsdotter ("Ing"), who wants to become a goddess and cast vengeance on those who 'mistreated her' in life. The primary battle will be to destroy her tools, kill her, or otherwise prevent her from succeeding - and without PC intervention, she WILL succeed. If she loses, the PCs have saved the day and move on to the next challenge; if she wins, the PCs have a longterm enemy goddess, and probably a few divine allies as well, and will need to start looking at their longterm survival prospects.

Ing has to acquire the eyes of seven heroes; make a razor of mistletoe; steal the horn of Valhalla; acquire dragon's blood; and kidnap and threaten a god. All of these can be re-attempted until Ing is brought to justice before the gods, killed, memory-wiped or something similar. It is necessary to stop her with at least a few of these (to buy time), and then find her.

She would also like to kill one god in particular (Eir), and murder her former mentor (Thorsteinn). Although Thorsteinn knows this, Eir does not, and Eir is unlikely to believe it, as Ing is a cleric/healer of hers.

This text provides many tools to run the adventure, but does not go into the specifics of designing the vaults, or setting up Asgard for invasion. The word count would be obscene if it did ;).

GENERAL COMMENTS, DEFINITIONS & DISCLAIMERS

Level: Somewhere around 7th to 10th is probably best.

Leach is not the same as leech. The definition I am using is that of a porous vessel used to draw liquids from an object (or to draw solubles from a liquid).

Vault also has a lot of meanings, but the one I'm using is that of a burial chamber, particularly one with an arched structure.

For the Horn of Valhalla, I decided to go with Gjöll (sometimes spelled Gjall or Gjallar), which is the horn Heimdall will blow on at Ragnarok (it is also the horn which Odin uses to summon the gods to war against giants and that sort of thing).

For Wuxia, I'm using more of it's original meaning. Wu is martial, or having to do with war, while Xia is a person who "is honest in words, effective in action, faithful in keeping promises, fearless in offering his own life to free the righteous from bondage." (Sima Qian) Wuxia, then, is the Chinese variant of the gentleman-knight, but also carries a bit more to it. Xia typically indicated a certain amount of outsider status - the xia was often from humble background, and was often a non-conformist. My Wuxia cat, then, is a feline that embodies these principles.

Wuxia is also associated with high-leaping, high-power, asian butt-kicking, like Warriors of Zu Mountain and The Bride with White Hair. However, that is when 'wuxia' is used as an adjective for a genre (for example, 'wuxia film'). 'Cat' is not a genre I'm familiar with, so I have used it in the context of its meaning for an individual.

CAST & CREW

(note: 'j' is usually pronounced 'y', and 'i' is pronounced as in 'pin'; everything else is usually similar enough to English)

Gjöll: The horn of Valhalla, guarded by Hrist and Mist (the two valkyries who serve Odin by bringing the horn when he calls for it). It is also the horn which will be blown by Heimdall when Ragnarok comes. It's primary property is that it can be heard throughout the Nine Worlds, and that when it is heard, virtually all of the Asir will gather in Asgard to prepare for battle, whether that battle is something Odin has chosen, or the beginning of Ragnarok.

Einherjar: The "sons of Odin", heroes who have been chosen on the battlefield by the valkyries to go to Valhalla. They are important to this story only in that they exist - the eyes of their corpses are useful in the making of a potion which Ingjaldirsdotter needs.

Eir: Goddess of healing and shamanic healers, companion of the goddess Frigg. She taught her secrets only to women, who were the only healers in Norse society.

Hrist: A valkyrja, an immortal female servant to Odin. Hrist is known as the "Shaker", who caused land to shake and rend (the valkyries possessed the power to determine who won or lost battles - for purposes of this text, it is assumed that they did so through manipulation of the landscape). Hrist is the less subtle of the two valkyries protecting Gjöll, and tends towards smash strategies.

For stats, a good mix is a half-celestial stone giant redescribed to be a beautiful valkyrja, with chain shirt, Huge longspear, and earth-related spell-like abilities (including earthquake several times a day, or possibly at will). She rides a half-celestial Huge heavy warhorse (+ fly 100 ft).

Ingjaldirsdotter ('Ing'): The barber's beautiful and talented and evil apprentice.

Loki: An Asir god whose name means "knotted loop". He's the kink in everyone's plans, the Great Satan of Norse myth... but he's also a bringer of knowledge to humanity, and one of the few gods who would stand with the downtrodden against the other Asir. Unfortunately for mortalkind, his idea of 'help' is usually filled with hate, bile and cruelty, but at least he's trying.

Mist: A valkyrja, an immortal female servant to Odin. Mist's name means "Fog", and she often covered the battlefield in mists (see Hrist's entry). Mist is a subtle warrior, using mists and air magics to her best advantage.

For stats, Mist can be built the same way as Hrist, except that her spell-like abilities should be air-related (including obscuring mist at will).

Oddir: A wise and ancient and very unfriendly cat who teaches philosophy to strangers in the wilderness, and kicks ass when and where needed. Oddir is actually Thorsteinn, below, after his apprentice got through with him.

Thorsteinn: An immensely skilled physician and barber, and in some ways the ideal Norse hero (he is a master of all manly arts, including warfare, but has devoted himself to his practice as a physician). His ability to be a hero has been taken away, however, and so he must work through others.

BACKGROUND

Once upon a time, there was a powerful physician named Thorsteinn, whose skills very nearly rivalled those of Eir's healers (Eir is a goddess, her healers are mortal women), despite a lack of magic. Eir approached this physician in a dream, and told him that if he continued to defy her will with his medicine, that she would either kill him or turn him into a woman.

Thorsteinn was not keen on either option, and offered a compromise - he would be allowed to continue his practice, but he would apprentice a young healer, teach her his ways, and never teach another man. Eir considered, and agreed. It was a way of turning Thorsteinn into a woman, just from one generation to the next, and with fewer hard feelings, Thorsteinn's precious knowledge would not be lost.

There were still a few hard feelings, of course, and Thorsteinn greatly resented his apprentice, for he had wanted his son to carry on his tradition. He grew to hate Eir, but feared her threats enough to teach the apprentice what he could.

Ingjaldirsdotter, his apprentice, was a young and beautiful woman, but she was primarily chosen by Eir to learn from Thorsteinn because she was also immensely talented. However, Ing grew bitter under the stingy tutelage of Thorsteinn, and came to feel that she had been given over to Hel by her goddess. She came to resent everything, and she would have simply grown into a very bitter crone of a healer, except that she chanced upon something that provided a terrible opportunity, at a terrible price.

Thorsteinn, after all, could not have achieved such skill on his own. Many of his poultices and healing methods and tools were beyond the ken of mortal physicians prior to him. The idea that he could have discovered each principle and method on his own was beyond unlikely. For Thorsteinn had been given a book by Loki, the knotted loop of the Norse pantheon, and in this book were many secrets. In return, Thorsteinn had promised to keep the book secret and locked away, and had given up his youth.

Ing found the book. Thorsteinn, despite his bitterness, was a good man, and refused to use many of the terrible secrets in the book. Ing was not such a man, but a resentful and vengeful woman. Each night, she carefully copied the pages she wanted, as Loki laughed deep beneath the earth.

The book held many secrets, but those that Ing chose to copy would allow her to see the divine (a prereq to some of the others), find (and use) Gjöll (the horn of Valhalla) to become a goddess, transform men into animals, and create a razor made of mistletoe which could kill a god (or mortal). However, the book did not give these powers to her - it merely explained how to acquire them.

The first she mastered was the easiest - the ability to transform men into animals (baneful polymorph for those making the switch to 3.5e ;)) - and she used this upon Thorsteinn when he discovered her. She meant to turn him into a toad, but he managed to transform the curse (although not eliminate it - like the 12th Good Fairy at Sleeping Beauty's ceremony, he could only change it) and became an unusually large cat instead, and escaped with Loki's book of secrets held in his mouth.

Still, he was out of the picture, and unable to return himself to his original form. And so she began to work on the other secrets, and the PCs came onto the scene.

LOKI'S BOOK OF SECRETS

This is effectively out of the picture, but the recordings of Ing are still around. They are:

Transforming men into animals: This requires a potion (but the Brew Potion feat is sufficient), but it can be thrown as a missile weapon for the same effect. The result is a permanent polymorph other into the Small-size or smaller Animal of your choice. It does not affect Intelligence, but does prevent human speech. A disjunction or wish could break it, but no lesser magics can.

Seeing the divine: As with transforming men, this requires a potion, but the ingredients are extremely specific - the eye juice of an Einherjar (the warriors chosen to go to Valhalla). In order to get to Valhalla, one must have the potion (to see the rainbow bridge), but to make the potion, one needs something from Valhalla... except that the corpses are here in this world. Ing will be raiding burial mounds to get enough Einherjar eye juice.

Each potion takes seven days to make, and requires the eyes of seven Einherjar. They must be placed in a cup of ensorcelled pumice stone (which is very expensive to enchant, and is only useful for this purpose), which is itself placed in a ceramic jar. The stronger the Einherjar, the better the resulting potion, and the longer it lasts. Ing is going after the eyes of the seven greatest warriors, which she expects to last for her a year and a day... surely long enough for her to achieve her other goals.

Secrets of Gjöll: The horn of Valhalla can be heard throughout the Nine Worlds, and thus is useful for summoning the gods. But it has another use as well. A potion made of dragon's blood can provide partial immortality, but only in the Mortal World (and does not protect against violent death); if it is drunk from Gjöll (in an 8 hour ceremony), however, it provides one with immortality in all Nine Worlds, and the invulnerability of a god. With a good bargain with another god, one could become a god by this method.

The other side of the secret is where the horn is located: at the mouth of the Gjöll river, somewhere in Hel's realm. It is protected there by Hrist and Mist, Odin's horn-bearer valkyries.

Razor of mistletoe: Mistletoe is truly deadly only to Baldur, but a weapon made of it can be harmful to any Asir god, and a sharp blade made of transformed mistletoe is a weapon which can kill, if it is wielded with sufficient skill and strength. Making it requires a great deal of time and magical work, however.

For stats, treat as a vorpal dagger +5 which automatically gets past the DR of gods (but the vorpal aspect only does x5 damage to a god; it kills a mortal). The cost and XP is quadrupled or so, whatever you feel is appropriate for such a fine weapon.

INGJALDIRSDOTTER'S PLAN

She seeks the tombs of the seven greatest Einherjar to ever live, but will settle for as few as three or four of them, plus a few other Einherjar, if she has to. She is also crafting the mistletoe razor. When she has both, she will make the potion and apply it to her eyes, use her divine sight to find the rainbow bridge and cross it to Hel (Heimdall guards the way to Asgard), where she will seek Gjöll and steal it.

Her skills as a physician and healer have provided her with a great deal in the way of money, and she has used it to hire a number of mercenaries to help her on the specifics - acquiring dragon's blood, stealing the eyes of the Einherjar, and continuing to hunt for Thorsteinn (who is going under the alias Oddir to avoid magical discovery by name).

Once she has Gjöll, the razor, and the dragon's blood, she will make herself immortal in an eight hour long ceremony, and then attempt to sneak into Asgard with the razor and horn, where she plans to kidnap one of the weaker gods and bargain with them for power. If possible, she will choose Eir, but she won't throw her plan away for that petty part of her vengeance - she can always kill Eir later.

It's an insane, low-probability plan, overall, but Ing sees it as a choice between dying and going to Hel, or getting her revenge and power fantasies fulfilled. The idea of simply living out her life is abhorrent.

GATECRASHING

There are several good hooks, which will affect how this scenario runs:

1) The party is one of the mercenary groups hired by Ing. To them, she is merely a charming, beautiful, rich physician who needs a dollop of dragon's blood (or, if they are more suited, the eyes of a great hero). Or perhaps she hires them to eliminate a monstrous cat that is haunting the nearby wilderness. Regardless, she's the Good Guy. Run them through one of the sub-scenarios, help her out a bit, and then have them run into Oddir (or, if they are hunting Oddir, let them get into a fight with him and then talk - if they somehow kill him, use a mysterious 'physician secret' he learned to turn his body to smoke and bring him back after a few days).

2) The party runs into Oddir in the wilderness. He asks for help, yadda yadda. See the "Meeting Oddir" section.

3) The party is travelling through a rural area and is hired to investigate a robbery. Specifically, the tomb of a great hero of the area, the only bit of history the place has, has been raided. Worse, the eyes of the corpse were stolen, which means that his eyes are now missing in Valhalla, as well. They want the eyes recovered, at least half of the treasures of the tomb returned, and the culprits brought in for justice (to be then killed as messily as the imagination of the local leader allows). When the party tries to capture the mercenary band that is making their way back to Ing, Oddir will show up and help them fight. Any mercenaries brought in alive will be mysteriously changed into animals while in prison.

4) If one of the PCs puts stock in their ancestors, start the session with a "holiday" visit to one of their more famously heroic ancestors... only to find the tomb broken open, their family wailing and gnashing teeth, and then run it as (3), above.

5) Oddir mistakes the party for the mercenary band who just stole some eyes. A fight ensues, as per the options under (1), and then he asks for their help as per (2).

Most of these hooks focus on getting them to talk to Oddir, so now let's go to that section.

MEETING ODDIR

Oddir is a 20th level Expert focused on healing, knowledge and butt-kicking. In general, he has at least a +28 skill in almost anything he needs to, a +15 BAB, proficiency in the weapons he needs, improved unarmed strike, etc. He's bad ass, for an NPC class.

He also knows numerous Secrets from the book, and so has many weird powers that simply aren't very explainable in terms of class. The best way to represent this is probably the vampire template - energy drain is a "life force punch", the ability to turn to mist is a body control secret, etc. Ignore the vulnerability to sunlight and ability to spawn undead, and give him a vulnerability to misteltoe-covered weapons, and you should be set.

Oddir knows that his former apprentice has been in the Book of Secrets, but he doesn't know what she knows. If the party doesn't know about the eyes of the heroes, he will; if they DO know, he won't. Either way, when he finds out, he'll know what she's planning with them, since there aren't very many uses for Einherjar eyes.

Oddir is cantankerous, uppity and generally annoying. The goal is not to have the PC's like him - in fact, they should empathize with Ing at least a bit (at least with the "killing Thorsteinn" part - the rest of her plan is evil, evil, evil). However, they need him. He's the only other mortal familiar with the Secrets, and he only gives out information very, very grudgingly (he doesn't want a repeat of Ing).

Nor will he fight with them, unless the enemy is already easy. He is aware of the importance of staying alive and keeping the secrets in his head; since he can't share them, he also can't afford to die. So he will act in a seemingly cowardly fashion, even though he's not really afraid, and will generally try to stay out of trouble.

After all, fights are what PCs are for.

Oddir's purpose is to be the Voice of the GM. He should be an inscrutable, irritating bastard, but he always comes up with good information. He will be the breakpoint between individual adventures in the scenario, the "tavern" they return to for their next mission.

Heavy-handed? Hell, it's Norse mythology ;).

Variant Note: As an alternative, and for a more evil-oriented party, you could flip this around. Have them work for Ing the whole way through - she's promised them positions of power in Asgard, and once she's established (having risked her life to test the theory), she'll ascend them as well. Then throw PC-like parties at them.

Other Note: Oddir is unwilling to give his true name (in case she learned one of the secrets that will let her find him if he states it aloud), nor will he use hers (for the same reason). He can only tell the PCs that the fight is against a beautiful physician. Even if they figure out who she is (or met her in the hooks section), she will have gone into hiding before they catch her. See the HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT section.

PLACES AND EVENTS

Burial Chambers: There will be at least seven vaults, guarded by ghosts, town defenses, etc. The families and towns near the vaults will not be able to afford to let the PCs in to guard them, because the PCs could be the thieves in disguise. They will guard them more carefully due to the warning, of course, but this will not be effective if the PCs are completely hands off about it.

So the PCs have several choices: break in themselves and steal the eyes themselves to prevent Ing getting them; stake out the place and hope it's the next one hit; keep an ear to the ground for thefts and try to catch the thieves as they run back to Ing; or some other plan I can't imagine ;).

The burial chambers themselves are simple affairs, usually a barrow mound with a deep tunnel entrance, a few side chambers, and a massive room large enough for a good fight. Vary it up a little from tomb to tomb, but overall, you're going to be running SEVEN of these, so don't make them too deep or complex.

The Dragon: Pick one of the smaller, less well-defended dragons in your campaign. Make him Ing's target.

The PCs will get wind of this when the first group of mercenaries dies in the attempt. Ing hires another set, and sends them off, and Oddir hears about the first group. Oddir isn't sure what she wants the dragon's blood for, but he can think of at least a dozen evil, heinous uses which she shouldn't. So the PCs will need to defend the dragon, or, at the worst, prevent its blood from being taken.

This is a good fight to save for near the end, since it is likely to involve high powered mercenaries.

Hel: Ing herself has to go to Hel, and races upriver to find the source where Bjöll is. The PCs will have the opportunity to stop her from reaching her objective here, at which point she will attempt to escape (to try again another day). Ing should be a high level Cleric, sufficient to provide the PCs with a severe butt kicking (but still defeatable), and have a reasonable chance to escape.

Asgard: If they failed to completely stop her, Ing will be going to Asgard. She can't sneak past Heimdall, so she does something different: she blows the horn in the Mortal World. As all of the warrior-type gods rush to Midgard (including Heimdall), she sneaks across the rainbow bridge to find the weaker gods who were left behind.

The PCs will hear the horn, as do all living things in all Worlds, and Oddir will finally realize what she intends. This will be the final battle - she'll be at her full power, damned near immortal, and extremely desparate to finish her bid for power before the other gods discover the truth. If the PCs stop her, good; if they don't, you get to grin viciously and explain that she is now the goddess of the dark side of the moon.

MISCELLANY

Mistletoe Razor: This takes Ing a full month to make, or any other dramatically appropriate time. While the PCs are fighting off vault thieves, she's making this. In general, there's no reason for the PCs to know to try to prevent this - but when they do find out about it, Oddir will grudgingly tell them that it can be destroyed by soaking it in holy water for seven days.

He will also inform them that if they just keep it, the gods will be after them (possibly untrue, but he doesn't want such an abominable thing to exist in the world).

Gjöll: At some point, Ing will have the divine sight potion and the razor. Whether she has the dragon's blood or not (but definitely after the attempt), it will be time to go to Hel and steal the horn.

Oddir will realize this when he puts the elements together - the potionof divine sight, the attempt on dragon's blood... it all adds up to a shot at immortality.

He won't tell the PCs about the "power of a god" part, he'll just say that she's trying to get a Boon, and that she mustn't get the horn. At this point, he'll tell them to make contact with a cleric of Odin he knew as a human (he won't himself - too dangerous).

Sleipnir's Horseshoes: The cleric can produce horseshoes, each with a tiny hair from Sleipnir's fur coat (Sleipnir is Odin's eight-legged horse, who can cross the planes, fly, etc.). Each horseshoe works for one round trip when nailed to a horse's hoof, and weighs 8 pounds. He will provide each PC with one shoe, and will replace them if needed, but will generally refuse to produce very many (each one costs XP, you see).

When nailed into a horse's hoof, the shoe provides the rider with the ability to teleport the horse and any riders into any of the Nine Worlds. The horse will then (likely) freak out, and the PCs will be where they wanted to be, just on the back of a freaked out horse. They can return at any time, as long as they still have their horse with them.

Goddess Of The Dark Side Of The Moon: If Ing succeeds, she will become the goddess of one of the only things not already taken by the other gods - the dark, unlamented part of the moon. She's not happy about it, but it's available "divine real estate", and she'll play the part to the hilt.

As the goddess of the dark side of the moon, she will have powers over darkness, dark emotions, and concealment. She will use these to begin wreaking havoc on the other gods, and any mortals that get in her way.
 

seasong

First Post
Ugh.

So, 4500 words. And for the record, the 24 hour timespan had nothing to do with it - I wrote all of those last night, between the hours of 10:30pm and midnight. So it's not the timespan, it's me. Last round and this round, I felt really, really inspired, and I fear it completely killed what little ability I had to be concise.

I wish I'd had time to edit this morning, but work has been very busy today. I could have trimmed out of some of the stream-of-consciousness garbage, maybe editted out the stat notes, etc. But, even so, I'm reasonably proud of it. I'll say why during the exposition phase, so I don't unduly influence the judge, but I'm fairly happy with it.

I just wish it were shorter, by about half or more.

At least nemmerle's is almost as long ;)
 



Rune

Once A Fool
cool hand luke said:
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.

This is where you get to decide to trade quanity for quality. Guess which one a typical judge values more? It's very difficult to edit out some really great material, but a good contestant will be able to concisely reword it to lose the excess baggage. You (hell, and I, for that matter) have got to learn not to be too much in love with your work, that you can't edit to make it better. No matter how much good material you have, it's useless, if it can't be presented well.

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 would really have liked to see that. Cutting out the descriptive text would have been better--even if it would be more heartbreaking.

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

Upon reconsideration, I didn't really have a problem with their inclusion, so much as the presentation of them as background material. I would have preferred to see all necessary background material in the body of the entry.

Fortunately, that is what I saw, and the links' real purpose was to provide evidence supporting the fact that you weren't plagiarising anything. That's fine; I just wish you had been clear on the point.

Although, personally, I do wish you'd trust the judge to make their own literary and historical connections, but then again, I was an English major, and do that kind of stuff all the time. Other judges may well appreciate the links.

Good luck in future tournaments, cool hand luke!
 

Rune

Once A Fool
Well, now that all entries are in, I'm going to discuss, a bit, what I think makes a good Iron DM entry, and what I think makes a good adventure, overall.

To do so, I'll respond directly to some comments:

Wulf Ratbane said:
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!

First of all, I think you've got it backwards, Wulf. There is a meta-game invovled in the Iron DM tournaments, but writing for the judge isn't it. When submitting entries, myself, I would often play little games for my sole amusement, writing for myself, as it were. That is the metagame. And you know what? I lost every single one of those matches. I don't think it was because of the metagame, per se, but I definitely should have used the time to refine my submissions.

But, you know what else? I'll do it again. It's fun, and helps to justify the enourmous amount of time requisit in playing in the tournament. However, I've always kept in mind that the object of the game is to write for the judge, and, to a lesser extent, for the audience. It's not a meta-game.

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.

This may be shocking, but I'm going to say it, anyway. Linear adventures are not inherently bad. If they were, time-based adventures (excluding time-travel adventures) would automatically be bad, as time is linear.

Railroading occurs when the players feel as if they have no choices. If they think they have choices, no matter whether all roads lead to the same conclusion, or not, it is not railroading.

Is it better to provide actual choices that lead to multiple conclusions? I tend to think so, but for an entirely different reason:

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. A good adventure serves as a seed for a good campaign.

One would hope that, at some point, the crafting of an actual adventure-- with a plot that actually engages the PCs with things to do: some puzzles, some fighting, some roleplay; with decisions to make and consequences that they can see and feel, etc.-- one would hope that would have some impact on the judging.

A good generic adventure should include a variety of elements, to try to appeal to all types, but there is no hard and fast set of elements that an adventure should have (although, it would be foolish to try to sell an adventure with no combat (for instance) in it, probably.

It is important that players can feel the consequences, but I think you're assuming that consequences necessarily need to differ from potential consequences to be felt. It's nice when that happens, but it need not be requisit, depending on the situation. It does however, need to feel different from the consequences of failure. The basic point, however, is that it's all an illusion. If you are able to sell the illusion, that is all that matters.

Seems to me that some entries are better off in alsih20's Ceramic DM. That's a-what I'm sayin. If it takes you 4000 words to cough up the backstory but the portion of the adventure that the PCs can actually interface with is 5 or 6 open-ended questions, that's a problem, in my opinion.

It really depends upon what the background is used for. If it's used to explain history, it probably is wasted space, if it's too large. If, on the other hand, it's used to set up political intrigue, motives, and character (combined), then it's an excellent use of the space. I've never believed that an adventure needs to come to a nice, packaged ending. If most of the events occur as a result of conclusions that the DM (or judge) can easily infer on his (or her) own, that's not a problem. As a judge, I've frequently read between the lines.

I'm not saying whoring to the judge is bad. I agree it's an integral part of the Iron DM mystique. I just don't think it should be the primary focus-- are we here to craft adventures, or are we here to see who plays better to the judge? Which has top priority, ya know? Maybe it's me who's off base, I dunno.

I think you're overestimating the role that that little factor plays in judgement. As a judge, I've always attempted to judge a work on its own merits, factoring in style last. I've seen it matter in past tournaments, but even in the tightest matches of this tournament, it has only been a factor once (so far--I still haven't read the final two entries).

I really should take a spin at judging one of these. I'd be curious to see if I can spot the whoring or not.

I'd hope to see you do so. Maybe I could get to play again. :D

Originally posted by seasong I usually try to think of it as a hired hack - Rune needs a game for tomorrow, these are the things he wants to include, this is what kind of game he likes to run, what can I slap together for him? Bare bones idea or fleshed out scenario, I'm writing it for him, and how his group plays.

That's actually not a bad way to approach this. All of Seasong's former entries (excluding, possibly the last, which I've yet to read) have been distinctly Seasong's.

If I saw an entry from him that I couldn't recognize as his, because it looked too much like mine, I doubt he'd win the round. I don't think I've been too opaque about this, but I value creativity higher than all other elements in judging the tournament.

If I couldn't recognize Seasong in his entries, or anyone else in their's, I'd be supremely disappointed.
 
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Rune

Once A Fool
And now, the Chairman has made a decision.

Who will be IRON DM SUMMER 2003?
 

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Rune

Once A Fool
IRON DM SUMMER 2003 JUDGMENT!

Nemmerle vs. Seasong

Well, I'm going to start by saying that I'm slightly disappointed with these submissions. I had expected better from both contestants at this point in the tournament.

That's not to say that these entries are bad, but they're certainly unpolished.

Ah well.

There is, at least, a lot of good stuff to latch onto. Take, for instance, the hooks. In Nemmerle's case, they are all varied and plausible. In Seasong's case, they are also varied, with the added bonus of being bastardly, in some cases. Getting the PCs to start the scenario by advancing the goals of someone they'll later be trying to stop is a very nice touch.

I also like the format of both works. Seasong's has an interesting "stop the bad-guy by any means at your disposal" quality to it, as well as an implied frantic rush against time. Meanwhile, Nemmerle provides an amazingly evocative saga (journey/Odyssey) format that strikes me in all the right ways.

And, most importantly, it's very creative. I love the red-herring court, the horseshoes used as a means of transport to the moon, the moral ambiguity inherent in aquiring them, all of the other means described of getting to the moon, and the wonderful character of the Empress of Dreams. Add to that the excellent tips on running the dream-city, and I'm practically ready to hand the crown over right now.

But then I read Seasong's and see the (characteristically) excellent characterization, the complex and weighty motives, the well-handled epic scope of the adventure, and I'm not so sure, anymore.

Additionally, Seasong's scenario allows for a follow-up campaign, much, much better than Nemmerle's, which relies mostly on the curriosity of PCs to explore the unknown, especially if the PCs fail stop Ing from becoming a goddess. Suddenly, there's a totally new evil goddess up there, with a totally new porfolio--and she's out to get the other gods!

Okay, so how were the ingredients handled?

Well, neither entrant fell for the "leach/leech" trap. I very much like the way Nemmerle's leach (the verb form) drains the wisdom and sanity of folk through dreams. Very cthuloid. On the other hand, using the noun version of the word gets Seasong extra points, even if it isn't overly intrigal to the story.

I think both entries used the Horn of Valhalla paricularly well. I especially liked seeing a well-fleshed out artifact version in Seasong's entry, but the link to the dream-city in Nemmerle's is also exceptionally good.

Both entries use the Dark side of the moon effectively. It's nice to see it as the source of dreams in Nemm's entry--quite creative. On the other hand, using it, not only as an encounter location, but also as a "reward" for failure (that is the domain of the new, evil goddess) is very nice.

I loved both Wuxia cats, even while I was disappointed with them. Their characterization was excellent, and both were quite evocative, but neither needed to be a cat and both looked like they were cats, merely because cat was part of the ingredient. Seasong's partial explanation for the form went a little ways toward solving the problem, but not far enough. Another problem with the ingredient use is that Seasong's character is way too heavy-handed, so much so that he smacks of railroading. Meanwhile, it doesn't make any sense whatsoever for the Emperess of Dreams in Nemm's entry to duel anybody, and telling me that it's a dream and shouldn't make sense won't help the players warm up to the idea any better.

The use of the lost vault wasn't particularly special in either scenario, but I did like the writhing nature of Nemm's version.

As for other ingredients, they are mostly good, and don't count against the players (I love, for instance, Nemm's Spider Monkey and Seasong's Eyes), but Seasong does include a poor one, which I can't let slide. I really think calling Asgard and other mythological locations a "fairy-tale land" is just stretching it too far. You wouldn't call them that if I hadn't included it as an ingredient, would you?

Okay. Neither of these entries is perfect, but with work, both would be excellent to run. Seasong, I really like the form of this one, and the epic scope could be unwieldy, but isn't. If you had submitted something of the quality of your last entry, I probably wouldn't even have bothered reading an opponent's (that's hyperbole, by the way).

Nemmerle's got a scenario that shines with creative inspiration and a format that works well for it. It's pretty sloppy--but the meat of it is all good.

Seasong, you are the Secondary Champion of Iron DM Summer 2003.

Which means, Nemmerle is the IRON DM SUMMER 2003!

Congratulations!
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
wow.

I was certain I had lost. . .

but. . . anyway. . .. WOO-HOO!

Seasong, congrats on a great entry. I think Rune is right - neither of these were our best - but even your worst is still pretty friggin' amazing.

And Rune, thanks for taking the time to run this.

Exposition to follow. . .
 


cool hand luke

First Post
comments from the peanut gallery

congrats to the deserving winner


now, looking back over the entire competition, what were things that everyone really liked?

favorite overall submission (I think there were actually better ones in earlier rounds)

favorite use of an item?

scenario you are most likely to use?

most rat bastardly submission?

others?
 

seasong

First Post
Re: IRON DM SUMMER 2003 JUDGMENT!

Rune said:
Which means, Nemmerle is the IRON DM SUMMER 2003!
And well earned!

Now I'm going to nitpick a few things that bothered me ;) (and sincere apologies for the nitpicking).

I think both entries used the Horn of Valhalla paricularly well. I especially liked seeing a well-fleshed out artifact version in Seasong's entry, but the link to the dream-city in Nemmerle's is also exceptionally good.
I am unhappy with this ingredient, both its inclusion and the judgement rendered on it. I know I screwed up enough things in my scenario that this doesn't really affect the judgement, which is why I call it a nitpick.

If the horn is of Valhalla, that requires that Valhalla exist. You could name any old thing Valhalla, and make a horn that is from it (which is essentially what nemmerle did), but, and this is important to me, you could have called it the Horn of Vuggrematch and nothing in the scenario would change. Or, given how it was used, you could have called it the Whatsit of Vuggrematch and nothing in the scenario would have changed.

In order to use it properly, I took the Proper Noun that was part of it, and I made that part of the background. I think I did a smashing job with it (not only did it tie nicely into the entire mythology of the scenario, but someone had to blow on it to achieve their aims, thus justifying why it was a horn), and if there was one ingredient in my scenario that I thought deserved huge kudos, it was this one.

My other ingredients, I was considerably less pleased with, but I want my props for this one :mad: :p ;).

Both entries use the Dark side of the moon effectively.
Really, I didn't feel like I did. Nemmerle's use of this ingredient was needful. For my use, it made a good domain (I thought) and was cleverly inserted, but there was no reason that the domain really needed to be the "dark side of the moon". I also forgot to include any notes on what fighting there would be like.

I loved both Wuxia cats, even while I was disappointed with them. Their characterization was excellent, and both were quite evocative, but neither needed to be a cat and both looked like they were cats, merely because cat was part of the ingredient.
This ties into the horn of Valhalla issue. If it's part of the ingredient, it should be there. I toyed with a number of other ways of handling this one, but the fact is, there's not a lot of meanings for the word 'cat'. The best alternate I could come up with was a tattoo of a cat, or a cat sculpture that provided wuxia advice (or powers)... but those worked very weakly in the scenario. So I opted, as nemmerle did, to go with a cool character instead.

This was sort of like the Awakened Camel (or whatever animal it was, I forget) that incognito did as an ingredient a long time ago. When the camel seemed silly to him later, he was disappointed in the use.

The only thing I would have improved with my use, given the ingredient, would have been to work in some way in which a cat's unique traits were needful to the scenario - perhaps keen hearing, or maybe requiring the PCs to groom the obnoxious thing before it would help them.

Seasong's partial explanation for the form went a little ways toward solving the problem, but not far enough. Another problem with the ingredient use is that Seasong's character is way too heavy-handed, so much so that he smacks of railroading.
Yup, I think I even pointed it out in the text (as part of my stream of consciousness writing) that it was heavy-handed ;) (I would have editted that out if I'd had time this morning to look at it - no use in giving the judge reasons to shoot you down). However, I will point out that heavy-handed plots are part and parcel to most wuxia film, with most things being overstated or made as obvious as possible, and that the wuxia cat was the only such element in my scenario :cool:

That was probably too subtle, though, and a bad gamble.

... Seasong does include a poor one, which I can't let slide. I really think calling Asgard and other mythological locations a "fairy-tale land" is just stretching it too far. You wouldn't call them that if I hadn't included it as an ingredient, would you?
Depends. If you'd asked me if Asgard qualified as a fairy tale land, I would have said yes. If you'd asked me what Asgard's dominant quality or descriptor was, fairy tale wouldn't have been the first word to pop to mind.

However, it is a grey area: fairy tales are not actually about fairies. Most of what we call fairy tales are Russian, and most actual tales about fairies we call Celtic Mythology. I took you to mean the word as "the cultural equivalent" - that is, the Other World for whatever culture we set things in. Since I set things in the Norse mythology, I used the Norse Other World, and I even picked the one that had dwarves and beautiful/immortal non-gods and eternal hunting and other traits in common with the Celtic Summerlands.

But I can answer your rhetorical question even better than that: I wouldn't have included Asgard if you hadn't included fairy-tale lands as an ingredient. The ingredient is what brought using it (and having Ing invade) to mind.

Seasong, I really like the form of this one, and the epic scope could be unwieldy, but isn't. If you had submitted something of the quality of your last entry, I probably wouldn't even have bothered reading an opponent's (that's hyperbole, by the way).
As I said when I posted that one, I knew I'd killed myself for round 3 when I wrote it. There's no way I'll match that again, not any time soon. If I could have saved that inspiration for last, I would have.

For the form, that's what my posts usually look like before I start editting them for clarity. Very linear, top-down list of elements as I think of them. I re-ordered a few things as I went (moved random stuff to the Miscellany section, and added the Overview and Cast & Crew sections), but reading that entry is pretty much like watching me think.
 
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