• COMING SOON! -- Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition! Level up your 5E game! The standalone advanced 5E tabletop RPG adds depth and diversity to the game you love!
log in or register to remove this ad

 

Not the Iron DM Tournament

The Iron DM tournament is currently running - if you're not aware of the concept you get six 'ingredients' to work into an adventure and 24 hours to write that adventure in, within a set word count (currently 750 words, but it goes up each round).

So here's the thing - setting aside the timing and judging, creating stuff for a variety of RPGs with some structure and some constraints is a fun and interesting exercise in its own right.

This thread is for anyone who wants to give the concept a go outside of the formal structure. So no time limit or judging, but keeping the 750 word limit and the six ingredients, posting an adventure precis. I think it's polite to let competitors post their formal entries before using a set of ingredients, but maybe that's just me.

Here's three sets of ingredients from the first round.

Swift Action
Tin Star
Waterlogged Sewers
Debt Collector
Hidden Knife
Underground Dance

Simple Plan
Credit Due
Dogs of War
Poor Reception
Last Knight
Reality Breach

Ghost Mushrooms
Rotting Utopia
Bear Necessities
Armored Lizard
Rootless Tree
Broken Angel

And a fourth set from the first round:

Empty Treasury
Wonderful World
Terrible Bard
Historic Bridge
Uncivil War
Spectral Lion
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

And here's an example to get the thread started in earnest.

The Glare of Progress
A Cyberpunk situation for The Veil
  • Ghost Mushrooms
  • Rotting Utopia
  • Bear Necessities
  • Armored Lizard
  • Rootless Tree
  • Broken Angel
The vast arcologies rise so high that sunlight doesn't reach down this far. Only the constant drip of a million streams of condensation, where the clouds form around the tops of the towers miles overhead and the water runs down, and down and down, here to fractured concrete, decayed pylons, rusted signs and busted hydrants of the once original streets. The rot of utopia set in down here on The Floor, and started climbing. But the Floor is the most rotten - if you're down here, you hit rock bottom, probably a while back.

The Broken Angel is what the the Floor locals call their sanctuary - part soup-kitchen, part club, part conduit for The Veil, four stories of crumbling ruin, festooned with miles of old cabling and filled with old jukebox parts, run by a mysterious figure called Salem.

The Laiety, a group of anti-corporate radicals in the area, are being stirred up by a preacher called NineLiveS, and have stopped visiting and partying at the Broken Angel. NineLiveS is trying to instigate a raid against a corporate headquarters, although he hasn't yet picked a target.

GianFranco is a researcher from the the Church of the New Saints. He believes the Floor may house new species which have adapted to low-light, high humidity conditions. If he finds new species he wants them wiped out as the Church seeks to destroy evidence of evolution.

Juice is one of the unofficial leaders of petty street hooligans The Elevators, about 15 smart, directionless youths prone to hacking the arcology elevators and riding upward to infiltrate, tag and prank in the suburban zones.

The Ursa Major corporation wants space for a new nutrient processing plant and this rotting utopia, filled with the remnants of the underclass is - in corporate terms - uncontrolled, unclaimed and unwanted. Perfect. They plan to clear the area they need with obselete battlefield atomic warheads from the previous century, codenamed Project Ghost. Technically its illegal, but who enforces the law here?

The Project Ghost timeline is to:
  1. send scout teams into the area to survey for structural weaknesses in the arcologies
  2. send a specialist demolition team in to advise on placement of the warheads
  3. bring in a heavily guarded nuclear team to install the charges
  4. wait for favourable conditions
  5. detonate the charges
Player Character 1
Anand is The Attached, a slim Latino with a worn face. An articulated metal Gecko, driven by some kind of AI, skitters across his body, slipping into a pocket then appearing from under his shirt to glide gracefully onto his shoulder, hexadecimal code blurring across its neon-blue eyes. Maybe he controls it, or maybe it controls him. Right now he's a wanderer, in thrall to its whispers.

Beliefs
Progress does not require violence
Strangers are usually well-meaning and friendly
Staying still is a slow death

Player Character 2
Lisbet is The Wayward, known as the Rootless Tree, because of the branch she carries filled with the essence of her Forest Homeland. The branch feeds on dreams to replenish the Forest, and so she found her way to The Floor - filled with dreamers all hoping for something else.

Beliefs
Without dreams my homelands will become barren
The Veil is good - it helps people dream
No-one else can be relied upon so I must do everything myself

Player Character 3
Salem is The Onomastic, the last of his order, whose Sanctuary is Broken Angel, the decayed and crumbling old building, and who is hunted by iconoclasts within the pure light. He doesn't remember how the old order came to be destroyed, but he fled here to the depths, away from the light. He feels it searching for him even here. How long before the light comes?

Beliefs
The light is the enemy of the order
When the people are joyful, I am joyful
The Broken Angel must be preserved above all else

Player Character 4
Juice is The Honed, a natural athlete and brawler who kicks around The Floor with her friends, looking for a purpose. Some would call The Elevators a gang but she doesn't see it that way. She doesn't act like the leader, except when danger is close when she feels responsible for those around her.

Beliefs
We need risk and danger to feel alive
I need my friends more than I need technology
It's not wrong if no-one gets hurt
 

Rune

Once A Fool
Neat! There hasn’t been a Home Game version of IRON DM on these boards in many years!

Some quick thoughts about The Glare of Progress:

I really like the various flavorful factions presented here and the choice to use specific characters for the PCs helps set the tone in a good way, too. The beliefs, especially, are helpful. I’m thinking convention game.
 
Last edited:

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
I like the approach to ghost mushrooms there. That's very clever. I like clever. Specifically for an Iron DM type entry, I might slim down the characters in exchange for buffing the timeline and tightening up consequences and connections. I like it a lot though, lots of good cyberpunk flavour.
 


pemerton

Legend
So here's the thing - setting aside the timing and judging, creating stuff for a variety of RPGs with some structure and some constraints is a fun and interesting exercise in its own right.
In addition to this, I like your use of pregen PCs as the focus for conflict/complication.

Swift Action
Tin Star
Waterlogged Sewers
Debt Collector
Hidden Knife
Underground Dance
This makes me want to post an island for Agon 2nd ed (I think it comes in at about 550 words):

Kassos
A steep-sloped island of handicrafters and traders

Signs of the Gods
Demeter (Goddess of Law): Her sign is the seal - promises made and obligations kept.

Hephaistos (God of Crafting): His sign is a star-shaped brooch wrought out of tin, the imposition of form onto the chaos of the natural world.

Zeus (Lord of the Sky): A storm rages and torrential rain is falling as your sailors dock your vessel.

Arrival
Water flows through the streets of the town, sweeping away the market stalls and hand carts.

A crowd gathers at the edge of a cliff that overlooks the port - led by Dares, the priest of Zeus, they are going to throw a young man, Pythios, over the edge as a sacrifice.

A middle-aged woman, bedraggled in the downpour, recognises you as heroes and looks at you imploringly. She is Chryse, mother of Pythios.

You must choose swiftly: will you listen to Chryse (Arts & Oration to stop the crowd performing the sacrifice), or comfort her (Resolve & Spirit: if she wins, she hurls herself into the sea after her son), or join the crowd on the cliff (Resolve & Spirit: if the heroes win, the Strife Level is lowered by one)?

Trials
To learn the truth about Dares choice of sacrifice: he is in debt to Chryse (Craft & Reason in the temple records; Arts & Oration vs Dares).

To repair the drains and sewers (Craft & Reason; Arts & Oration my ad an advantage from willing townsfolk).

To offer a different sacrifice to Zeus to end the storm (Resolve & Spirit; if the storm continues, raise the strife level and repairing the drains and sewers becomes Perilous).

Battle
Will the heroes confront the wild cultists who dance in the under temple, praying for the sky and earth to swallow up the town and restore Kassos to its primeval state? Threats: the cultists kill Dares; more rain falls.

Or will the heroes topple Dares from his position of influence? Threats: Dares destroys the records in the temple; violence breaks out among the townsfolk as old debts are called in and new ones established in the struggle for power.

Characters
Dares, Priest of Zeus (d8). Cunning (d6). Pious (d8, and Sacred in his temple).
Chryse, Townswoman (d6). Devoted to her son (d8). Honest (d6).
Townsfolk (d6). Industrious (d6). Cooperative: Advantage on any endeavour where they work together.
Thesela, cult leader (d8). Zealous (d6). Hidden knife (d8 Perilous). Accompanied by her cultists, she is Epic.

Places
The buildings in the town have copper downpipes; the sewers and drains made of brick and clay pipe, into which these flow, are in disrepair.

The temple of Zeus contains records of all debts and promises.

The under temple, lit by torches, has brick walls but an earthen floor.

Special Rewards
Trade goods to fill the hold of your vessel.

Mysteries
Why does Zeus send rain? Is it at the supplication of the cultists? To punish Dares for allowing the temple to fall into debt?

Who are the cultists? Are they townsfolk who despise urban life? Are they descendants of the farmers and hunters who once ruled on Kassos? And do they have some hold over Dares such that he dare not drive them from the under temple?
 

Rune

Once A Fool
I’m not familiar with the system, but that game (Argos) looks great! It hits a spot I I’ve been looking for ever since the 2e AD&D green-cover historical-setting days. D&D has never been the best fit for mythic Grecian roleplaying (although I think it would have worked okay in E6).

Some thoughts on Kassos:

That’s fun! There’s a real quality of exploration and wonder in this set-up that is very appealing!
 

pemerton

Legend
I’m not familiar with the system, but that game (Argos) looks great! It hits a spot I I’ve been looking for ever since the 2e AD&D green-cover historical-setting days. D&D has never been the best fit for mythic Grecian roleplaying (although I think it would have worked okay in E6).
I've only played one session, and this is my first attempt to write up an island. It's a little less magical than the default (eg nothing overtly supernatural beyond the storm), but I think that's what happens when you try to put industriousness into a Homeric scenario!
 


pemerton

Legend
Simple Plan
Credit Due
Dogs of War
Poor Reception
Last Knight
Reality Breach
I think this list invites a Prince Valiant episode (which comes in just under 750 words by my count):

After the battle
Episode Type: Assistance

Begin with: As you crest the hill with the morning sun behind you, a sorry sight meets your eyes: a battle was fought here yesterday, and many dead bodies lie strewn across the ground, left unburned and unburied. Some of them are being mauled by war hounds, cruel dogs unleashed by one side upon the other. You hear a voice calling: one last knight is still alive!

Name: Sir Emmett

Situation: During the battle Sir Emmett was pulled from his horse by the dogs of war, and now he is dying. He wishes to be buried rather than eaten. Secret: if the Storyteller wishes, Sir Emmett can be a member of the winning side in the battle, Count Leal’s army. The master of hounds lost control of the frenzied dogs, and they attacked a knight on their own side. Sir Emmet was left behind because the dogs would not let anyone approach him, and in his state of collapse he was assumed to be dead.

Short Term Goal: Die with honour and dignity.

Long Term Goal: Go to a peaceful, eternal rest.

Planned Activity: Sir Emmett will ask the passing knights to keep him company as he dies, and then to bury him once he is dead.

Personality: Sir Emmett fought valiantly. He now wishes to be properly laid to rest. If the Storyteller is using the secret situation, Sir Emmett will be ashamed of Count Leal's use of the dogs and treatment of the dead, and will admit his participation only if encouraged or comforted or forced to confront the truth.

Special Effect: Inspire to Greatness (each Adventurer who helps Sir Emmett).

First scene: The arrival of the Adventurers will be poorly received by the war dogs. To get to Sir Emmett, the Adventurers will have to fight the hounds, or otherwise drive them away.

Second scene: When the Adventurers approach Sir Emmett, they will see that he is dying. Healing skill used against a Difficulty Factor of 4 can save his life. Otherwise he will ask the Adventurers to keep him company as he dies, and to bury him. To keep him calm as he dies is Presence + Fellowship against a Difficulty Factor of 2; if the Storyteller is using the secret situation, to persuade him to tell his story requires a throw against a Difficulty Factor of 3, with additional successes reducing the Difficulty Factor until all is revealed at zero. If Sir Emmett is in peace at the moment of his death, he will gift the ring that he wears to the Adventurer with the highest fame, as a token of thanks (+1 to Presence for the purposes of prestige and influence on Sir Emmett's manor and at Count Leal's court).

Third scene (if Sir Emmett dies): the Adventurers can bury him if they wish. If Sir Emmett is buried, the Adventurers will see a flash of light in the sky as his spirit passes on. (If the Storyteller is using the secret situation, this happens only if Sir Emmett has repented and come to terms with the wrongful conduct that he took part in.) Each Adventurer who assisted him gets one use of a limited Inspire to Greatness, adding two coins/dice to one future throw.

Further development: If the Adventurers wish to seek out Count Leal and his army who left the bodies of the dead to be eaten by dogs, they have several options: they may ask Sir Emmett for information before he dies; they may follow the tracks of the victorious army; or they may wait for the master of hounds to return to collect the dogs. The Storyteller will have to develop the details if necessary; but the Adventurers can be confident that any attempt to confront Count Leal will undoubtedly meet with a poor reception, doubly so if they are accompanied by a healed and still-living Sir Emmett, who will be ready to give Count Leal all the credit he is due.

Statistics: Dogs of war (two per Adventurer) Brawn 4, Presence 3, Brawling 4, combat total 9 with fangs (+1 weapon).

Sir Emmett (Fame 3,000) Brawn 4 (currently reduced to zero), Presence 3, Agility 1, Arms 3, Battle 2, Courtesie 1, Hunting 2, Jousting 1, Riding 2, combat total 10 with medium armour (+2) and sword (+1) or lance (+1; 11 with Riding).
 

Rune

Once A Fool
Thoughts on After the battle:

A very nice, clean scenario. It’s refreshing to see a low/no magic grounded one every now and then and the knightly trappings fit well. I’m curious which system it’s written for, though.
 
Last edited:

pemerton

Legend
Thoughts on After the battle:

A very nice, clean scenario. It’s refreshing tosee a low/no magic grounded one every now and then and the knightly trappings fit well. I’m curious which system it’s written for, though.
Prince Valiant - in my view Greg Stafford's masterpiece. (I think it's better than Pendragon, which he described as his masterpiece.)
 


pemerton

Legend
I’ll have to check it out!
I have the edition that was re-released via Kickstarter a few years ago. I don't think it's still for sale by the publisher, but maybe second-hand? As might come through in my scenario, the focus is very much on deeds of knight-errantry.
 

pemerton

Legend
And a fourth set from the first round:

Empty Treasury
Wonderful World
Terrible Bard
Historic Bridge
Uncivil War
Spectral Lion
I'll try this set as a set-up for a Burning Wheel situation. For setting details, I've stolen geographic labels from the World of Greyhawk and proper names from Dungeon World. Any others should do just as well. By my count it comes in at 750 words exactly.


The bridge
A situation for two Burning Wheel players and a GM.

Background: A river runs through the Welkwood, dividing the Elven kingdom of Celene and the human lands to the east. It was once traversed by a great stone bridge, crafted by the Elven shapers and a sign of friendship between the two peoples. The Elven bards would greet travellers and welcome many of them as Elf-friends. Seventy years ago, Ansley the Lion of Fax - lusting after the jewels of the Elves - led an incursion over the bridge. In the conflict the bridge was ruined. The Elven Protectors have left it in its fallen state, its stones lying in the long grass and the water. The Elves have retreated to their havens and citadels; and while the people of Fax now repent of Ansley's deeds, they lack the funds and skills to rebuild the bridge themselves.

PC 1: Dagoliir (Age 170 years; Born Wilder Elf, Song Singer, lead to Citadel, Bard, lead to Paths of Spite, Griever, Deceiver)

Will B6, Perception B6, Agility B6, Speed B4, Forte B4, Power B4, Spite B6,

Reflexes B5, Steel B5 (hesitation 4), Health B6, PTGS (Superficial B3, Light B5, Midi B7, Severe B8, Traumatic B9, Mortal Wound B10)

Resources B1, Circles B3, Reputation (+1D) as the last bard of the fallen bridge

Skills: Sing B4, Lyre B4, Elven Script B3, Conspicuous B4, Oratory B5, Persuasion B4, Song of Soothing B4, Sleight of Hand B3, Sword B3, Bridge-wise B3

Spellsongs: Song of Songs B3, Song of Merriment B3, Verse of Friendship B4, Tract of Enmity B5, Sorrow of Truth B3, Rhyme of the Unraveller G6

Traits: Charismatic, Deceptive, Vocal

Lives in the foundation hall of the ruined bridge, on the eastern side of the river; wears Elven clothes but goes barefoot; in the hall are Dagoliir's Elven lyre (+1D), Elven sword and the finery of their former office.

Beliefs: The ruins of the bridge exemplify the ruin of the world - its stones shall lie where they fell, and it shall never be rebuilt!; I will never forget Ansley's betrayal - it's better that I suffer than the humans prosper; I tire of living in squalor and solitude - why do none of my kin relieve me of my vigil?

Instincts: Always greet those who arrive at the river bank - and lift their purse if I can!; Always point out what is flawed; Sing the Rhyme of the Unraveller when anyone tries to build.


PC 2
: Tripp (Age 35 years; City Born, lead to Noble, Bastard, lead to Soldier, Scout, lead to Peasant, Peddler, lead to Outcast, Strider)

Will B5, Perception B4, Agility B4, Speed B4, Forte B4, Power B4

Reflexes B4, Steel B5 (hesitation 5), Health B5, PTGS (Superficial B3, Light B5, Midi B7, Severe B8, Traumatic B9, Mortal Wound B10)

Resources B0, Circles B2, Noble father (the grandson of Ansley) who denies and despises Tripp, Infamous reputation (+1D) among the nobility as the bastard great-grandchild of Ansley the Lion, Affiliation (+1D) with the brave and sturdy woodsfolk of the Welkwood

Skills: Stealthy B3, Foraging B3, Orienteering B2, Observation B4, Mending B2, Sing B2, Etiquette B3, Haggling B4, Persuasion B5, Soothing Platitudes B4, Family Secret-wise B2, Forest-wise B2, Bow B3, Axe B4

Traits: Bastard, Blank Stare, Glib, Happy-Go-Lucky, Loner, Dreamer

Wears the clothes, boots and cloak of a traveller in the woods, and soft leather armour; carries travelling gear, a knife in a belt sheath, a kit for mending, a run-of-the-mill axe and a superior quality hunting bow (+1D).

Tripp has been visited while dreaming by the ghost of Ansley; and Ansley has described how, as the Elven Protectors routed his warband, he hid a pouch of Elven jewels in the foundations of the bridge.

Beliefs: It is a great life, wandering through this wonderful wood; I am not my ancestry; Ansley has visited me for a reason, so I will find the jewels that he cached.

Instinct: Whistle as I walk; Always offer a cheerful greeting; Never start a fight.


Additional setting details: Over the past 70 years, the river's course has shifted and the place where Ansley hid the jewels is now a couple of feet under the water, below Dagoliir's dwelling-hall. The jewels are a +3D fund.

As well as the stones in the river, there are also Dagoliir's old shoes. He lost them wading through the river during the battle 70 years ago. Being Elven shoes, while they are wet and damaged they can be mended.
 

Rune

Once A Fool
Thoughts on The bridge:

These are interesting characters, but I’m not sure I’m seeing the shape of how this is supposed to play out. Presumably, the PCs are meant to conflict, since the the elf holds humans responsible for a past betrayal and since the human will likely want to move the stones (for loot) that the elf views as a monument to that betrayal.

This seems like a fine encounter, but the choice to present it with pre-gen characters suggests it can’t easily fit into an ongoing campaign and it doesn’t seem likely to open into a wider adventure, either. Unless it sparks an ongoing rivalry or something.

Which makes this scenario potentially quite brief. Maybe it could be used as a cut-scene of sorts to break up the action of an adventure involving other PCs?

At any rate, it really is a neat scenario.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
The problem with @pemerton is that once you've let him out of the box you'll never get him back in. :D

Kudos for even attempting BW my man, that's tough. I like how you handled it though. Actual IDM entries at the 750 word count would usually have less stats than that, but this isn't that, just sort of like it in a dim light.
 
Last edited:

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
The problem with @pemerton is that once you've let him out of the box you'll never get him back in. :D

Kudos for even attempting BW my man, that's tough. I like how you handled it though. Actual IDM entries at the 750 word count would usually have less stats than that, but this isn't that, sort sort of like it in a dim light.

If I ever do Iron DM again, it's going to be an extended riff on the similarity between Elvish and Elvis.

1da6.gif
Ni ain't úqua mal a hún- huo.
 

pemerton

Legend
Kudos for even attempting BW my man, that's tough. I like how you handled it though. Actual IDM entries at the 750 word count would usually have less stats than that, but this isn't that, just sort of like it in a dim light.
I'm not sure which this is the dim-lighted version of which that.

I think when presenting a BW scenario for a one-shot (which I take it is the logic of Iron DM) the PC stats are crucial. I took inspiration in that respect from The Sword, which is an old BW demo scenario (I just had a quick poke around BWHQ to see if it's still there, but couldn't find it).

It's the intersection of situation, stats and Beliefs (and to a lesser extent Instincts) that suggest a way forward for the scenario.

These are interesting characters, but I’m not sure I’m seeing the shape of how this is supposed to play out. Presumably, the PCs are meant to conflict, since the the elf holds humans responsible for a past betrayal and since the human will likely want to move the stones (for loot) that the elf views as a monument to that betrayal.

This seems like a fine encounter, but the choice to present it with pre-gen characters suggests it can’t easily fit into an ongoing campaign and it doesn’t seem likely to open into a wider adventure, either. Unless it sparks an ongoing rivalry or something.

Which makes this scenario potentially quite brief.
There's no particular way that it's supposed to play out. But as I was writing it, and now re-reading it, a few ideas occurred to me.

The PCs probably meet, given one has an Instinct to whistle and cheerfully greet, and the other an Instinct to greet arrivals at the bridge. There's no reason to think an initial fight breaks out - Tripp prefers never to start a fight, and Dagoliir is bitter, not violent. Both PCs are built to be credible in a Duel of Wits (Dagoliir's Oratory is hampered by Deceiver but enhanced by Charismatic; Tripp's Soothing Platitudes and Falsehood are enhanced by Glib, and Blank Stare puts a penalty on some of Dagoliir's checks).

Tripp can pretend not to be related to Ansley (Falsehood - Tripp is cheerful but there is no Belief or Instinct about being honest). Dagoliir has a reason to help find the jewels (the third Belief) although also has a reason not to share them (and Sleight of Hand might come into play in that respect). Tripp might persuade Dagoliir that the best way to get revenge would be for the two of them to recover the jewels and then rub Tripp's father's nose in that fact!

Another option is that Dagolliir destroys what remains of the bridge (Rhyme of the Unmaker) to find the jewels.

I think that the jewels need to be more valuable than what I posted - probably +5D (the odd number makes it harder to agree on an even split, which is deliberate) - because one option should be that Tripp calls on the woodfolk to help rebuild the bridge, and +3D resources probably isn't quite enough to suggest that.

I also imagined smaller scenes, like Dagoliir disrupting stones that Tripp is moving into the river to help create "stepping stones". Or Tripp's whistling prompting Dagoliir to sing and play. If Dagoliir want to use Song of Soothing (the Elven version of herbalism), Tripp has Foraging to find the herbs. Tripp can find and mend Dagoliir's shoes (reducing his squalor).

There's no pathway in this scenario for Dagoliir to recover from Spite (that's a mechanically complicated process that requires the participation of another Elf whom the Dark Elf has wronged); but there is scope for Dagoliir to move on from the bridge, with or without Tripp. And with or without the jewels: after all, Tripp might lean hard into I am not my ancestry and forget about the dreams of Ansley.

So anyway, the sort of framework I had in mind was something more like the films Hero, or The Bridge on the River Kwai - unfolding over time, rather than a quick dust-up and it's all resolved. I haven't playtested it so don't know if it would work - but I think it could.
 


Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top