Mini-Encounter Contest - Heat Five

Vote for Heat Five

  • Sharick, the Exiled Lunatic

    Votes: 3 6.5%
  • Surprise, you've just been double-crossed!

    Votes: 4 8.7%
  • The Barking Frog Inn

    Votes: 6 13.0%
  • Illusions & Delusions

    Votes: 11 23.9%
  • Secrets Best Left Unheard

    Votes: 4 8.7%
  • The Fort of the Bloodfist Orcs

    Votes: 1 2.2%
  • The Encounter at Landsend

    Votes: 14 30.4%
  • Confronting Bloodhorn

    Votes: 2 4.3%
  • Studium Musica

    Votes: 1 2.2%

  • Poll closed .

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I enjoyed reading many of these encounters a lot. Many had some very novel takes on the 3e system.

Anyway, I ended up voting for Encounter at Landsend. Though it was a site-based encounter, I saw a lot of potential for the druid and his petrified redoubt. Great job!!

My second choice was Illusions & Delusions. I thought that the encounter had a great plot and interesting characters. Many possibilities for roleplaying with the crazed bard. A few things took away from it in my view, but not enough to have it as my second choice (i wish we could rank our top 3 or something like that!).

Two points, the mechanics for the magical ring's power to have a character lose his sense of reality wasn't fleshed out well, but if I was running the encounter, I think I could easily come up with some rules that would satifsy that.

The other point I think was off was the take on the alter self spell. Kobolds, being Small, cannot transform into something the size of an ogre mage without some strange weight problems (only one-half an individual's weight can be altered). Maybe the kobold could have transformed into something shorter, but equally anorexic mind flayer perhaps :)?



I voted for Illusions because it had a half decent summary in the begining (the only others that had this were Bloodhorn , Secrets, an Musica) and it seemed to be the most usable.


First Post
I also voted for "Encounter at Landsend", mainly because I'm a sucker for anything that has to do with dwarves, and the concept of a diligent druid dwarf is just too cool.

Good luck to all entrants!



First Post

Th' heats keep gettin' harder! Outta 9, I'd have ta say a least 5 coulda had my vote. FWIW, here's how I see 'em:

The Fort of the Bloodfist Orcs
Well look: I've seen a number o' orcish forts, so seein' another one doesn't rank very "original" in my book. That, an' it's got a half-fiend barbarian. 'Fraid I need more in my half-fiends ta make 'em interesting. Motivations, weaknesses, themes.....

Surprise, you've just been double-crossed!
Three major problems with this one. First, the double-cross itself: Ya gotta do these carefully, or the players will be frustrated. No fun = no game. This one smacks of railroading. Second, the set-up: It's not clear why the uber-wizard doesn't just hire a few more henchmen, an' get the ring himself. He's clearly powerful enough, and sending a poorly protected (but very expensive) simulacrum to trick some adventurers to do it seems too contrived. Third, the confrontation doesn't seem to take into account that the PCs could stop the door open. Or heck, they could do any number of paranoid'd likely foil th' DMs plan.

Confronting Bloodhorn
Sorry kid, but th' work computer has no unzip utility. No read=no vote. I'm sure I'm the one missin' out.

Sharick, the Exiled Lunatic
After readin' it, I kept thinkin': "...yeah, but why is he crazy?" I need ta have a good reason fer that before I kin vote fer it. That, an' the location is...umm...boring.

Now we get ta th' good 'uns. It was very hard to pick, mostly cause they all combined interesting ideas with decent writing. An' (ta steal from Mistwell), they followed th' rules. Mostly.

Studium Musica
Interestin' idea, tho' I'd guess that th' recording spell might require the expenditure of exp. It does create a magic item, after all. An' doesn't the PH say specifically that other magic doesn't work with scrying? The NPC was okay, and th' building interesting. The PC hooks were too fuzzy....

Secrets Best Left Unheard
Very well written, if a wee bit long 'n wordy. The Inn is nice an' comfortable...useful, even, tho' not otherwise noteworthy. The place ya lost me was this bit in the set-up: "Having discovered that they are resting in an inn,......." Now look, I kin understand plot hooks an' all o' that dreck, but how do they know? I'll tell you: th' DM wants it that way. What if the PC are careful? <insert other grumbling here>

The Barking Frog Inn
This one almost had me....ahh, nothin' like the smell o' broken teeth, bloodied noses, and smashed furniture ta wet th' appetite. An' th' map is superb. All you other entrants should be ashamed, compared ta this work. But....well, first, most PCs are not gonna part wit' th' equipment jus' ta get into a bar. And two, th' real interestin' story in this encounter will rarely be used: Derek BattleMug's history. That's the part that needs the' yet the PCs will be too busy flingin' mugs an' dodgin' table legs ta find it out.....

These last two...well, it coulda gone either way fer me....

Illusions & Delusions
I like the bard. He's crazy, an' th' DM would need ta have a silver tongue ta pull it off, but.....I like 'im. Good motivations, good curse, appropriate power level. The location....well, let's not talk 'bout that. Let's get back to th' many DMs know stage directions? An' the villian, the kobold sorcerer using non-core rules "Alter Self" spell.....well, let's get back ta that bard character.....

The Encounter at Landsend
Well written, cool concept, an' another dwarven druid! (What is it with druids in this contest?) The NPC is done well, and he and the encounter are interestin', and separable. My only complaints are the length an' the number o' pets he has. Oh, an' th' fact that the tree is not fossilized; it's magicked. Fossilized means buried, then turned to stone. This is somethin' different. Very cool, tho'! (I've got Skill Focus: Geology; hey, what kin I say?)

On merit an' coolness factor, Encounter at Landsend got my vote.

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My reviews again. This time nothing seemes really good, nothing seemed really bad. I had a really hard time picking one to vote for. Again, I'll be harsh, good stuff is understood, criticism needs to be said. On the other hand, there's nothing badly wrong with any of these, I guess I just found it to be a really bland heat.

Sharick, the Exiled Lunatic: Interesting. Not much of a location, and not much explanation. Needs a lot more backstory, if it's going to be that open ended. Cool NPC, but not very believeable.

Surprise, you've just been double-crossed!: Quite workable, but a little pedestrian. I'm impressed how an entire dungeon was the described location, very effective, but as someone mentioned, why is the wizard doing this? Simulacrums are expensive.

The Barking Frog Inn: This one just screams as something pulled from someone's home game with not enough explanation. Cool as far as it goes, but pretty limited.

Illusions & Delusions: I almost voted for this one, just because of the image of an actor in a ratty dragon suit. I can see a lot of humour value in this one, but the curse is somewhat vague. One of the best.

Secrets Best Left Unheard: Another without enough to back it up. You need to arrange for a powerful NPC group to get mad at you for this one, seems like a lot for just a side-trek.

The Fort of the Bloodfist Orcs: Somewhat pedestrian. No real complaints, nothing jumped out at me.

The Encounter at Landsend: When even the GM doesn't know what an NPC is trying to do, it gets really hard to play them if the PCs try something unexpected... like reading their mind.

Confronting Bloodhorn: Pretty standard, but I liked it. Just right for an evening's hack and slash. Nothing special though.

Studium Musica: Okay, this one is just odd. I guess I just can't see my players taking it seriously at all... and one's a bard.



Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Standard Rant: Here are my comments on this heat. I'm not doing this to be critical of people, or judge them or their entry, or influence votes in any way. I'm only doing this because I know that I like honest feedback on my work, and I assume others want that as well. That said, I'm not looking for a debate on my opinions (they are just my opinions, which means they are only worth whatever value you put on them, which is probably none .) I also won't mention who I voted for in each batch.

To make sure I don't influence people's votes in any way in favor of my entry (I just entered the contest for fun, to get my feet wet on writing adventures in preparation for other contests that have more serious prizes at stake), I've asked a friend of mine to write their own opinion of my entry, and I have/will insert that opinion in the appropriate place instead of my own. That friend is fairly critical of stuff, so it probably won't help my chances (as if anyone really cares). Maybe my entry is in this batch, and maybe not .

A brief word on this discussion about the rules. Pretend for a moment you are writing an adventure for Dragon Magazine and/or Dungeon. They have editorial (and time constraint) rules that you MUST MUST MUST obey. There is no spirit of the rules, there is no sorta-follows-the-rules. You follow them, or you get rejected. Period. This contest is, in a way, a test for people who want to write adventures for various d20 publishers in the future. In that sense, following the rules may be more important than the content of your entry. So, I am personally placing a lot of emphasis on your ability to follow the rules when voting. But then, I am a lawyer by trade, so I am probably way more anal about that sort of stuff than others.

For reference, here are the Rules:
1) Entry should consist of three pages. The first page should contain the encounter, the second page should describe (and, if necessary, map) the location and the third page should include your NPC, complete with background, roleplaying notes and combat tactics (if relevant). Your entry may optionally contain one fourth page for illustrations or maps; this is not compulsory.
2) You may not exceed one page for each of these elements, and your text should be in Times New Roman font (or similar) at a font size of 12 points.
3) The full 3-page document should bear a title and an indication of its Encounter Level, and sent as an email attachment to me at
4) The location and the NPC should be useful independently of each other and of the encounter itself.
5) The encounter should be one that can be easily inserted into most campaigns.
6) The encounter should be clear and easy to run?

Enough ranting, on to the entries:

Sharick, the Exiled Lunatic (EL ANY). The tale of Sharick is indeed a very sad and moving story. I really wish, however, that the author had given us something more to go on regarding the curse of Sharick. Why did the sage do this to him? How can it be undone by the party? The location, obviously, isn’t of much use, and is rather short. Would have been nice to include the Sage’s old home as the location, and provide some answers there. Overall, I liked this adventure, but wanted more answers, and more detail.

Surprise, you’ve just been double-crossed! (EL 5). First, it is rather unfortunate that the author decided to cut the margins on this encounter, as it gives the appearance that the author was not able to be brief (and the contest rules emphasize brevity). That said, I do like this encounter. I’m a fan of traps, and this one has several (two trip wires and an ambush). However, I am again left wanting for more. What does the map of the undetground dungeon look like? You can use a fourth page for a map, but the author decided not to. What are the stats for the undead in the crypt? None are offered. Who is the master of Sneed, and what are his/her stats? Again, none offered. It’s difficult for me to run this adventure in my game if I know going in I’m going to have to provide details for more than half the adventure. Additionally, the NPCs and Location are directly linked to this encounter.

The Barking Frog Inn (EL 6). First, the right margin was played with a bit, which gives the gives the appearance that the author was not able to be brief (and the contest rules emphasize brevity). Second, very nice map, I’d like to know what program was used to create it. Finally, the text itself: I really liked Derek. A lot. His background is well thought out, as are his motives. I can see using him in my game. The Inn, while not particularly special in itself, is also useful (you can always use a new Inn in your game). The PC and Location are both tired to each other, but they wouldn’t be too difficult to entangle from each other. Overall, a good entry.

Illusions & Delusions (EL6). First Impression, the author decided to cut all the margins (top, bottom, right, left) on this encounter, and it gives the appearance that the author was not able to be brief (and the contest rules emphasize brevity). Even with that advantage, the author exceeds the page limitations, jumbling together the encounter and the loaction into three pages, with a fourth page for an NPC. The location and encounter are clearly reliant on each other, and of no practical use apart from each other. I did like the NPC, and the bards particular insanity, comingling reality with various plays in his tarnished memory as he speaks of the terror of the Ogres, was interesting. I just couldn’t get over the breach of the page rules, and I'm really surprised that it has so many votes, and that nobody has mentioned that it has a full extra page beyond what the rules allow.

Secrets Best Left Unheard (EL 8) First impression is that all the page rules were followed for this entry. And in fact after reading the entry, the location and NPC are also independant of one another and the encounter itself. Nice job! As for the text of the encounter itself, I liked Molbran. That nasty little half-fiend could trouble a party for a long time (or only once). The Inn is not particularly interesting, but as always, another Inn description never hurt a game.

The Fort of the Bloodfist Orcs (EL 10?). This entry technically follows all the rules, for pages and location/NPC independance. Nice to see that. And the location of the cave with the appearance of teeth for guard towers is a nice touch. However, something is missing from this entry for me. There is nothing really jumping out at you as unique and interesting here. Sure, Drogar is a nasty half-fiend guy who could put up a good fight. But there isn’t really much in the way of motivation for him (other than do his father’s bidding until he can defeat him), nor is there much in the location that is really special (other than, again, the look of the place). I wanted to see something magical, or mysterious, or a unique contraption, or a special trap, or at least an adventure hook to get the PC’s here. Something to grab your attention and say “Hey, now that is new!”. I liked this entry, but it just lacked some oomf for me.

THE ENCOUNTER AT LANDSEND (EL 12). I had an encounter at once, and barely escaped alive with some Chinos! Okay, sorry, easy shot. My first impression of this encounter is that, once again, the author felt the need to play with the right and left margins, and it gives the appearance that the author was not able to be brief (and the contest rules emphasize brevity). Additionally, the Encounter and Location are 100% tied together, and are almost a direct continuation of one another. On the plus side, Oggenoth is a very neat NPC, living in a very interesting place. He is well though out, full of “character”, and worth using in my game.

Confronting Bloodhorn (EL 12) . First impression, this entry actually follows all the rules. The entry is brief, with only one page (and correct margins and fonts) for each section. Each of the location and the NPC can easily be used independant of one another, and do not reference each other or the encounter. As for the content, I like Khasmek, and can see using him in a game. The Inn is not particularly unique, but I can always use a new Inn, and the map is very nicely done. I wouldn’t have used a PDF format for the map however, since that makes it more difficult to insert into the word document.

Studium Musica (EL16). First Impressions: What’s with this fourth page for a new spell? Violates the rules in a pretty plain way. As for the content, the location and NPC do not directly reference each other or the encounter, which is nice to see. Delphin is an interesting character, and his archieval crystals are truly a wonder to behold (and I know my PC’s would have plenty of use for them and the new spell). A nice entry overall.


First Post
None of these struck me as great. I liked pieces of several:

Sharick, the Exiled Lunatic:
Always speaking with S's was clever. But I wanted to know
why and how to help. Or at least what sharick was thinking.

The Barking Frog Inn:
Fun, but It seemed cliched.

Illusions & Delusions
I voted for this one. Just because the Bard was so clever.
I don't think I could pull off rhyming all the time.

The Fort of the Bloodfist Orcs:
I thought everything here was solid and well explained.
Maybe I've read too many of these by now. But there wasn't
a "spark" that made me think, "this is really cool."

The Encounter at Landsend
The NPC and tree were interesting. I liked a guy living in
a petrified tree. I just didn't think the encounter stuff
was interesting

Studium Musica
A neat new idea for a spell and magic item. But the Bard and
location seemed bland. Again, maybe I've read too many of these.

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