[IronDM] Iron DM Returns! Winner announced!

carpedavid

First Post
Iron DM, the adventure-writing competition that's sweeping the nation, makes a triumphant return to EN World with the Spring 2005 Tournament. Sign-ups will take place in this very thread on Tuesday, May 31st at 1:00 PM, EDT (that's eastern daylight time, or GMT-4 for those outside the US). The first eleven (that's right, 11) competitors with timestamps after 1:00 will get to participate in this season's incarnation of the Roughest, Toughest DM Competition on the Web!

The previous winner, Wulf Ratbane, gets a guaranteed seat, if he wants it, for a total of twelve participants.

What is this Iron DM of which you speak?

Well, according to the official Iron DM archive:

An Iron DM tournament is a contest in which writers show their ability to turn a collection of random ingredients into a cohesive adventure over a short period of time.
Created by Nemmerle (a regular of the EN Boards and co-creator of the Rat Bastard DM Forum), the tournament was inspired by the tongue-in-cheek cooking show Iron Chef. Whereas the show’s contestants fashion several dishes out of a single random ingredient, however, Iron DM contestants fashion a single adventure out of several random ingredients. These ingredients may include locations (Millhouse, sinking island, filthy nursery), creatures (goblin prince, wyvern, guttersnipe), objects (limes, broken teeth, rod of wonder), or more abstract elements (betrayal, typhoon, vengeance).

A single round in the tournament consists of two contestants pairing off against one another. The tournament judge gives both contestants the same set of ingredients (usually six) and a set length of time in which to create the adventure (usually between four and twenty-four hours). Once both entries are in, the judge reads them and evaluates both their qualities as an adventure and their creative and appropriate use of ingredients. The judge then issues a ruling, usually accompanied by a detailed critique of each adventure. The winner of a round advances, until the tournament’s final round produces the Iron DM.

The tournament helps DMs hone several important skills, including the ability to fashion interesting stories out of the unpredictable actions of PCs (mimicked in the tournament by the judge’s ingredient list), the ability to create memorable spectacles and characters, the flexibility to accommodate multiple paths into and through an adventure, and an exploration of the consequences and aftermaths of an adventure. In addition, several DMs have used Iron DM tournament entries in whole or in part in their own games.

Where can I read previous tournaments so that I know what I'm getting myself into?

Why, you can go to the official tournament archives, found here:

http://www.aquerra.com/IRON_DM/main_archive.htm

Who is eligible to sign up?

Aside from current or previous players in this judge's campaign, anyone is! If you've ever GMed a game (or even if you haven't), you're a potential participant.

Wait, who are you to run this thing?

Me? I'm a multiple-time finalist, Spring 2004 Champion, and was the Fall 2004 Judge.

I just found this thread in the middle of the tournament, and I have no idea where to begin.

While just jumping in and reading through the thread is the most interesting way to follow the tournament, here's a handy dandy menu of the entries and judgments:

Round 1
  1. Ingredients - el-remmen vs. Tinner - judgment
  2. Ingredients - Wulf Ratbane vs. reveal - judgment
  3. Ingredients - Stormborn vs. WinnepegDragon - judgment
  4. Ingredients - Dremmen vs. Evilhalfling - judgment
  5. Ingredients - Nonamazing vs. howandwhy99 - judgment
  6. Ingredients - Warden vs. Mark - judgment

Round 2
  1. Ingredients - Evilhalfling vs. Tinner - judgment
  2. Ingredients - Nonamazing vs. Stormborn - judgment
  3. Ingredients - Warden vs. Wulf Ratbane - judgment

Finals
  1. Ingredients - Tinner vs. Stormborn - judgment
  2. Ingredients - Wulf Ratbane vs. Stormborn - judgment
  3. Ingredients - Wulf Ratbane vs. Tinner - judgment
 
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carpedavid

First Post
Berandor said:
So... are you able to do Nemmerlesque judgements?

I think I got pretty close during the later rounds of the last tournament. I tried to be somewhat gentle during the first round, but once we got to the semifinals, my judgements were much more nemmerlesque.

For the uninitiated, the term nemmerlesque refers to the judging style of the Iron DM founder, Nemmerle (or el-remmen, as he is now known): no-holds-barred and brutally honest. His judgements cut right to the quick of what is right or wrong with an entry, and he doesn't let you off the hook if you screw up.

Rendering judgements that live up to that standard is something that all Iron DM judges aspire to.

If you want examples, read my judgements for the semifinal rounds one and two here:

http://www.aquerra.com/rbdmc/viewtopic.php?p=1486#1486

and here:

http://www.aquerra.com/rbdmc/viewtopic.php?p=1526#1526
 

carpedavid

First Post
For those wondering what they might get out of competing in the IronDM tournament, here's my spiel from my judgment of the last tourney's finals. In addition to being what I consider good, general DMing advice, it might also give you an insight into what I'm expecting from the competitors.

---------------​

Before I get into the actual judgment, I'd like to take a moment to share what I've learned from competing in previous Iron DM tournaments, since it's my sincerest hope that the competitors found my judgments to be constructive, even when they've been downright mean.

The single biggest lesson that I've learned is to focus on what's important. I used to spend far too much time prepping for games - I would create elaborate maps, write up descriptive text for every encounter area, and invent intricately detailed backgrounds for NPCs.

Ultimately, very little of that would end up being worthwhile for the PCs. Spiffy looking maps are great, but if I'm the only one that sees them, it's not worth the effort. Descriptive text is great, but if all the PCs really need to get a sense of their surroundings is a sentence or two, I'm just wasting time. Intricate backgrounds are great, but if the PCs never need to know what the NPC studied in grammar school, then I'm really just feeding my ego.

Besides wasting creative energy, the other problem that over planning produced in me was the tendency to hold on to the story I had set up; in other words, railroading the PCs. Learning to focus on what's important had a distinct effect on my planning process; I no longer spend so much time on prepping an adventure. What time I do spend is focused on the things I know the PCs are going to interact with, and how they tie together. Since I spend less time planning, I'm more flexible during the game - which means that I'm a better GM.

Remember, role-playing is collaborative, improvisational fiction. The players aren't there to read your story, nor are you there to create theirs. As both GMs and players, you are there to create a story together - that's the essence of role-playing.

The other lesson I learned from Iron DM, and it's a subtle lesson, is to try to design adventures that give each PC a chance to shine. Competitors - remember those six ingredients that you're given that you have to be creative to tie together? Those aren't a random bunch of items that I pulled out of the ether, nor are they the essential pieces to a puzzle whose pattern you're tasked with developing. They are your PCs. They're the random actions of a group of individual players and the essential qualities of their characters. They're the cleric's turning ability, the rogue's lock picking skills, and the fighter's power attack. They're the decision to take a walk down the inconsequential tunnel that you hadn't mapped out, and the hour spent investigating the rock that you placed there for no reason. The goal of trying to integrate six seemingly disparate ingredients is the same as trying to integrate a group of six seemingly disparate PCs: to create something that's interesting and fun to play.
 

Wulf Ratbane

Adventurer
carpedavid said:
The previous winner, Wulf Ratbane, gets a guaranteed seat,

Wait a second... I won? Is there a link to it?

I seem to recall, the last Iron DM I was in I quit-- and went home cryin' like a Mary.

If in fact I did win the last one, that's a good thing, cause I am overseas at the moment exactly 12 hours off the signup, and unlikely to be able to make it.

So to reiterate:

If I have a seat, I am in.

If not, I takes my chances with everyone else trying to sign up.

I was just noticing the other day we have had a dry spell of Iron DM (or so it seems) and was about to start one up myself!

Which can only mean that our implanted Iron DM microchips have awakened us, Lobot-like, at precisely the moment the master intended.


Wulf
 

carpedavid

First Post
Wulf Ratbane said:
Wait a second... I won? Is there a link to it?

The last IronDM contest was the Fall 2004 one I ran over on the Rat's Nest. You did indeed emerge triumphant from that one. If anyone knows different, I'd appreciate a clarification.

I seem to recall, the last Iron DM I was in I quit-- and went home cryin' like a Mary.

Was that the Spring 2004 tournament (also held on the Rat's Nest, and lost to a server crash)? That was the one with Nemmerle's oh-so-clever, second-round "theme." :) Again, if I'm missing one, hopefully someone can point me to it.

If I have a seat, I am in.

Yep, yer in. If someone does correct me, then I'll grant that winner a seat as well, and we'll take the first 10 other contestants.
 

Evilhalfling

Adventurer
the last Iron DM tourneys moved to a differernet site, this made me cry.
I read a round or two then lost track of it. Im looking forward to its return.
 

WinnipegDragon

First Post
Man, I hardly ever post here, and the last time I entered an Iron DM I got bounced in the first round, but this is so tempting...

Are lurkers welcome? :D
 

carpedavid

First Post
WinnipegDragon said:
Man, I hardly ever post here, and the last time I entered an Iron DM I got bounced in the first round, but this is so tempting...

Are lurkers welcome? :D

Everyone is welcome! By all means, give it a shot. The worst that can happen is that you get practice at adventure design and some constructive, if stinging, criticism.
 

WinnipegDragon

First Post
carpedavid said:
Everyone is welcome! By all means, give it a shot. The worst that can happen is that you get practice at adventure design and some constructive, if stinging, criticism.

Actually, I didn't get much criticism when I entered last, I just ran into a red-hot Seasong that made it all the way to the finals that time. A weak use of 'Bag of Tricks' also hurt me. It's archived here: http://www.aquerra.com/IRON_DM/summer2003/R1M4.htm

Side note, I remember there being a huge rush to sign up last time... I can't believe this has been up for a whole day and only 2 have signed up so far?
 

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