Iron dm summer champion announced!

Rune

Once A Fool
Re: Re: IRON DM SUMMER 2003 JUDGMENT!

seasong said:
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.

However, the ingredient is actually a magical item in D&D. Not only that, Nemm did have a Valhalla of sorts, just not the mythological one.

However:

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.

Perhaps I didn't emphasize this well enough in my judgement, but I was very impressed and I thought that, if there was one ingredient in your scenario that deserved huge kudos, it was this one.

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.

Quite so. But an ingredient may fit well without actually needing to be that ingredent within the context of the story, as long as it needs to be the ingredient within the context of the character. Your sphynx from the first submission fits. The cat, less so.

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.

It was a Bright camel, actually.

But a wuxia cat could be interpreted in many ways, not all of them (not even most of them, perhaps) silly. Perhaps you've noticed that I'm fond of ambiguous ingredients. ;) Furthermore, and this is the important part, a wuxia cat can suggest fantasy and/or adventure far better than could tasty pudding or a bright camel.

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:

This was a case of giving me the rope to hang yourself with. However, I would probably have picked up on it anyway. I don't mind that it was a very unsubtle character--I mind that it was so obviously a mouthpiece of the DM--although making it disagreeable helps a bit. Also, remember, no matter how much of a genre you want to emphasize, this is not a film, and the needs of an adventure must be met in order for the players to have a good time.

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.

Alright, fair enough. It really looked to me as if you used Asgard because of the horn and were then trying to tack on the other ingredient because it sort of fit.

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.

Crap. I forgot to say:
...and what was up with seasong's entry? Compared to his last one, it was a clumsy tour de force of literary wasteland, a dry desert devoid of the cool waters of clever allusion, decorated only with the baked camels of linear Jobsworth plots. Did he think he could ride the success of his last entry? That we would be too afraid of his staggering reputation to tear down a half-assed work? Very disappointing!

:p
 

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seasong

First Post
Re: Re: Re: IRON DM SUMMER 2003 JUDGMENT!

Rune said:
However, the ingredient is actually a magical item in D&D. Not only that, Nemm did have a Valhalla of sorts, just not the mythological one.
Seasong removes foot from mouth long enough to say, "Well, I'll be damned. A magic item, you say? In the DMG, no less, you say? Well. Well, well, well. I'll be damned." Then he re-inserts foot in mouth.

Boy, I feel stupid.

But a wuxia cat could be interpreted in many ways, not all of them (not even most of them, perhaps) silly. Perhaps you've noticed that I'm fond of ambiguous ingredients. ;) Furthermore, and this is the important part, a wuxia cat can suggest fantasy and/or adventure far better than could tasty pudding or a bright camel.
But it has to be a cat. I was referring to the part in your judgement where you said, "both looked like they were cats, merely because cat was part of the ingredient".

Mostly, I just misunderstood that sentence. You weren't saying they should not have been cats, but that the cats should have been necessary. In which case, I agree entirely!

Alright, fair enough. It really looked to me as if you used Asgard because of the horn and were then trying to tack on the other ingredient because it sort of fit.
Nope. The reason Ing went there (to get god-like powers to match her immortality) could have been replaced by the GM saying, "Hel is willing to bargain with her" or "Loki has approached her and said that if she can achieve this much of her task, he'll provide the rest, so long as she swears fealty to him". Since the fairy-tale land looked like Asgard, though, I closed those avenues for Ing, and forced her to be more aggressive.

Crap. I forgot to say:
...and what was up with seasong's entry? Compared to his last one, it was a clumsy tour de force of literary wasteland, a dry desert devoid of the cool waters of clever allusion, decorated only with the baked camels of linear Jobsworth plots. Did he think he could ride the success of his last entry? That we would be too afraid of his staggering reputation to tear down a half-assed work? Very disappointing!
:p
:D:D:D Thank you. I needed that.

And I don't want my nitpicking to detract from nemmerle's victory. It was very fairly won - I liked his entry a lot more than mine (rass'n-frass'n magic items I forgot about aside). And I agreed with 90% of Rune's judgement - I just had a few tiny bits I had to get off my chest.
 


el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
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.

When I read the first part of this I thought, "But I did kind of explain why she was a were-tiger." But then I looked back at my entry with a "Doh!" - I had meant to add to the section on the city's denizen that lots of lycanthropic creatures could be found here - and basically how since they lived on the moon itself they all were "true" lycanthropes - being able to change at will. Didn't really say why the Empress was a were-tiger, but at least gave context for her being there.

As for the duel, it made sense to me - I was trying to go for the playfully cruel or cruelly playful nature of cats, and the duel seemed to work for that - she wanted to help, but she also wanted to play.
 

lightful

First Post
All Hail !

Congratulations and high praise go to nemmerle !

The final round of Iron DM tends to be a bit disappointing, in most part, because the judges save their “best” ingredients for last ! Connecting a wuxia cat with a horn of Valhalla will strain the creativity of most writers.

I’d like to add that, all told, I found nemmerle’s three submissions to be the best overall, and that my favorite one, was seasong’s in the first round. It was fitting that they meet in the final round !

This competition raised a lot of questions, and possibly some ire (we don’t see PirateCat actually moderate too often). In order to resolve those matters I thought I’d post in a new Iron DM format and philosophy thread.
 

seasong

First Post
Exposition

It all started with leach. Sure, I didn't use the ingredient much, but when I saw the word, I realized that Rune was planning something tricksy. So I carefully checked and thought about the definitions of each word, possibly TOO carefully - I definitely gambled badly on certain aspects of wuxia and fairy-tale land, for example.

I also hurt myself by not editting. My creative flow is readable, certainly, but there are a lot of mistakes in it that would have been corrected on a second pass (not giving the judge rope on heavy-handed cats, editting out jotted notes on stats, previewing the title, including the definition of fairy-tale land I was using, etc.). And it would have at least given me a chance to fix the lack of connection Oddir had to being a cat, and maybe giving him some heavy-handed dialogue that made sense for the character, instead of just saying "make him heavy-handed". It might have also been about 500-800 words shorter, just glancing over the stuff I would have cut right off the bat.

In short, this was a good start on an IronDM entry. I wish I'd finished.

Now for how it came about. Like I said, my entry was pretty close to my stream of consciousness, so I'll just comment on the entry linearly. You'll probably have a bit less respect for me when you see my patented "Make It Up As You Go Along" method of brainstorming, but what the heck.

It all started with the word 'leach'. When I went through the word list, I kept coming back to that one, and then I hit eyes. At that point, I knew that a bunch of eyes in a pumice cup would be in the scenario at some point. I think, with some work, I could have made it a vital part of the scenario, instead of just a logical consequence, but I'm still happy it was in there. But then I needed to know what a stone cup of eyeballs, and more specifically, what eyeball juice would be useful for.

At this point, I was still just looking over the ingredients, tossing them back to my Muse while she twirled a strand of hair around her finger and smiled mysteriously.

So I scanned back up the ingredients, and stared at the horn of Valhalla. Like I said, I'd forgotten (or never noticed) the magic item, so I was wondering what in the heck to do with it, when the eyes finally hit.

I started typing. I wanted the eyes to be some medical secret or some such, so I started with Thorsteinn, a Norse physician skilled in his craft. Eir only taught women, and only women were allowed to be healers ("real healers" in D&D), so that made Thorsteinn something of an abomination. Right there, I had my unfriendly physician, so I kept on that tack (writing Eir in), and the gifted apprentice sprang up.

If anyone's read The Anvil of Ice, it's a Norse-like novel about a gifted apprentice who throws down his master. In that novel, he's the Good Guy and the master is the Bad Guy, but the basic dynamic of the former apprentice and master is ages old, from Orpheus to Darth Vader. Anyway, I thought of it, and leapt onto the archetypal bandwagon. Ing was born.

Her name, incidentally, is a real but uncommon name - I wanted something vaguely exotic, long enough to be impressive (even though the name itself is humble in meaning), and it had to shorten (as the Norse often did) to Ing the Merciless :).

(er, humble in meaning: It is literally "Ingjalder's daughter", with Ingjalder itself having little in the way of strong background to it)

At this point, I realized I needed to explain where Thorsteinn learned his craft. I decided on Loki, for no other reason than he's the Norse whipping boy, and the only Asir who's not afraid to make MORE Asir if it will get in their teeth.

(This sometimes backfired on him, as with Sleippnir, but other than that, Loki has contributed more monsters and enemy gods to Ragnarok than all the other gods and giants combined)

Then I did something that I seem to do a lot in real life: I made up four Fairy Tale Powers ("able to drink the ocean", "transform men into animals", etc.), with the intent to figure out what to do with 'em later. Seeing the divine was inspired by the cup of eyeballs, although I wasn't sure why it would be useful to her yet; transforming men into animals was kind of a random link to other Powerful Women like Circe and Medusa who had the power to change (and thereby destroy) men (although I was thinking I might use it to get in a cat or spider monkey); and the mistletoe razor was inspired by Loki's presence (Loki tricked the blind god Hodur into using a mistletoe arrow to slay Baldur). The other one was originally "hear any person's name she listens for, where ever it may be whispered", to tie into the whole "see the divine" thing, and you can see that I kept that fear in Thorsteinn's mind, but ultimately gave it up in favor of my better idea :).

(This was also another aspect of Fairy Tale Land which, had I taken time to edit, would have been pointed out more explicitly)

(And what I was thinking, but never wrote in, was that all high-level spells should be this much of a pain in the ass to develop ;))

(One more thing ;)... Four? Not THREE powers? Norse mythos was often square rather than triangular, and although they had threes in their myths, twos and fours were also very common. I don't clearly remember which myth I was thinking of at the time, but I was trying for a Four Corners of the World kind of power, or the Four Elements, with sight as air, transformation as fire, hearing as water, and mistletoe for earth)

I then went ahead and transformed Thorsteinn into Oddir, and, with yet MORE links to fairy tales that I should have explicitly mentioned, made it a transformed curse, and had him escape with the Book of Secrets locked behind his sealed lips. Sigh.

Then I had to quickly hash out what the secrets were, so I started writing them up, and I suddenly realized that Ing didn't have to be merely ambitious enough to steal her master's secrets. What if she wanted the whole enchilada?

So I started thinking about how she could become a god. Gjöll came up (the River in Hel) as a possibility, so I googled for Gjöll... and turned up the horn of Valhalla I'd been worrying about. Heroes who drank dragon's blood and Gjöll and Hel and divine sight all kind of mixed for a moment, and I got giddy. This was also where I realized how I could pull Asgard into the mix (thinking it was perfect fairy-tale land ;)).

I skimmed back through the text I'd already written, added in Gjöll where appropriate, updated her plans, and realized what use the mistletoe had for an ambitious, powerful, willful woman who felt she'd been mistreated by the gods. Oh yes, I was giddy.

As you can see in the text, when I finished the Secrets, I wrote what was next on my mind: Ing's Plan. Then I wrote up hooks, with the intent that they would need to meet Oddir, wrote up Oddir, made a reference to a Hiding In Plain Sight section I intended to write up (but never did), and scattered various locations, events, etc. about.

Then I reorganized the whole batch, went through to make sure that there were plenty of options for the PCs (as soon as I knew she wanted to be a goddess, I knew I wanted to have a long-term, strategic war of attrition waged between her and the PCs), commented on things Oddir would "realize" just in time...

Added a cast list when I realized I'd put together numerous NPCs on the fly, and that folks might get confused with all the Oddirs and Thornsteinns and Ings and Hrists and Eirs...

Wrote up a quick overview, told myself I'd finish editting in the morning, and went to bed.
 

WinnipegDragon

First Post
Re: All Hail !

lightful said:
...my favorite one, was seasong’s in the first round.

Yeah, sucks to be me :)

I have to say that rereading a lot of these, Seasong's rd 1 does seem the most memorable to me. Of course, my entry lost to it, so that may be flavouring my judgement!
 

Rune

Once A Fool
Now that it's all over, I guess I'll go ahead and say that Seasong's round 2 entry is probably the best I've ever read. Ever.

In all of the tournaments I've seen, it's one of only a handful that I couldn't really see a way to improve. And since I was judging it, I was looking at it more closely than I normally would.

I encourage folk to give it a second look. There's a lot to learn from there.
 
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seasong

First Post
Thanks, Rune :D.

The second one is my favorite, too, because it forced me outside of my usual comfortable boundaries. I'm usually at my best when I'm experimenting, but at the same time, I'm a dreadful coward. I owe an immense debt to anonystu for blazing the trail for me with his corpse.

Also, it let me show off my moderately literate background, and I adore showing off ;).

A couple of people chimed in on the first round entry, but really, every time I look at it, I can see the rotting pieces hiding beneath a flow of smoothly flavored text and the one good idea in it (the bag of tricks use). I think it was the one that the most people would enjoy, but... I have a lot of difficulty liking it, myself.
 

lightful

First Post
And that apperenrtly is the root of the problem !

I found your 2nd round entry to be too large. I'm not saying that the ingredients weren't used well or that there aren't memorable and/or usable characters and places, it's just that it seems more appropriate for and Iron campaign or somesuch.

Your 1st round entry, while having flaws, is a memorable piece of fun. A complete adventure with hooks and follow ups.
 

seasong

First Post
seasong said:
"A couple of people chimed in on the first round entry"
"I think it was the one that the most people would enjoy"
My 1st round entry is the one that I think is more likely to win in IronDM.

I have problems liking it myself, because of all the stacked clichés and fairly straight-forward design (it offered plenty of twisty things, but the scenario itself was "chase the ferret, fight the harpy, collect $200, pass Go"). But it was definitely good work.

And the second is my favorite for reasons of personal satisfaction, which I have alluded to elsewhere as being not part of the game ;). It was sheer luck that cool hand luke also posted 4,000 words so I wasn't competing against a succinct scenario.
 

Rune

Once A Fool
Seasong, I don't think your first entry was superior to the second for a specific reason: I don't think adventures should necessarily follow the module format--I think that often modules (as they are popularly presented) use a format that is too limited. What you did in the second entry was to break conventions in such a way as to present a cohesive adventure (easily expandable to a whole campaign) that was superbly done. It used ingredients well, it had a virtually flawless structure, and was massively creative.

That's what an entry, or adventure, for that matter, should be. No need to be more. No excuse to be less.
 

Talix

Explorer
Congratulations to the new Iron DM champion! :)

Hey seasong - do you have any interest in editing and re-posting that last entry of yours, just for those of us who might think about using it in the future and are interested in seeing how polished you can make it? :D
 

seasong

First Post
Talix said:
Hey seasong - do you have any interest in editing and re-posting that last entry of yours, just for those of us who might think about using it in the future and are interested in seeing how polished you can make it? :D
Not today ;). But if you look through my exposition, it mentions most of the explicit edits my text needed.

Mainly, I'd think up some ways for Ing to hide from PCs looking for the root of the problem :).
 

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