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Scheduling Thread for the IRON DM 2020 Tournament!


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The word count is definitely the hardest part of the competition. It really compresses the story you can have the adventure tell - you can't put space between the ingredients to let them flow into each other more naturally, it's very hard to include subplots or have sandbox-type adventures where you need to cover multiple NPCs who might react different ways based on different circumstances. From a 'judge's sanity' perspective I can 100% understand why it exists though, and because it does compress your narrative, it forces you to bind the ingredients together more tightly. Which isn't a bad thing, to be honest. If there was one thing I'd do, it's maybe lift the first round word limit to 1000 words. 750 is really just a little too limiting - entries almost turn into a series of telegrams.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
I want to say that was @Iron Sky? We should see if it’s a record.
That it was, however, it does not appear to be the record holder...
BTW, my IRON DM FALL 2003 second round entry (untitled) was 6881 words not including the ingredient list. 😨

That might hold the record. I think I caused @pierlorinho some brain damage having to read that (but it won!)
My goodness :eek:
The word count is definitely the hardest part of the competition. It really compresses the story you can have the adventure tell - you can't put space between the ingredients to let them flow into each other more naturally, it's very hard to include subplots or have sandbox-type adventures where you need to cover multiple NPCs who might react different ways based on different circumstances. From a 'judge's sanity' perspective I can 100% understand why it exists though, and because it does compress your narrative, it forces you to bind the ingredients together more tightly. Which isn't a bad thing, to be honest. If there was one thing I'd do, it's maybe lift the first round word limit to 1000 words. 750 is really just a little too limiting - entries almost turn into a series of telegrams.
I could be persuaded to supporting bumping Round 1 up to 1000 words. The other two rounds are, however, perfect in my opinion.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
One thing I will say, though, is that it's great to see so much discussion happening around Iron DM post-contest. Usually it's final judgment, a few congrats, and radio silence for the bulk of a year. It's definitely motivating me to give serious consideration to that summer contest, whether it's a true "IRON DM SUMMER 2021" or, more likely, a spin-off of other homebrew design challenges.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
It could be fun to do a contest that is based on the "Great British Baking Show" format.
  • Start with thirteen contestants and three judges.
  • Each week the judges give a handful of ingredients, and the contestants have 24 hours to post their results.
  • Each week has a theme. Cartography Week: the contestants make a map/scenery/VTT. Monster Week: contestants create an original monster. Random Encounter Week: contestants write a random encounter. NPC Week: the contestants create a non-player character. Or whatever; Dungeon Masters wear lots of hats.
  • At the end of each week, one contestant is eliminated and the rest advance to the next round.
  • Finally, the last three contestants go head-to-head for the Championship Round, where they have to create a full adventure using ingredients that the judges provide and one or more of their previous submissions (their map, their monster, etc.) to write an adventure.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
It could be fun to do a contest that is based on the "Great British Baking Show" format.
  • Start with thirteen contestants and three judges.
  • Each week the judges give a handful of ingredients, and the contestants have 24 hours to post their results.
  • Each week has a theme. Cartography Week: the contestants make a map/scenery/VTT. Monster Week: contestants create an original monster. Random Encounter Week: contestants write a random encounter. NPC Week: the contestants create a non-player character. Or whatever; Dungeon Masters wear lots of hats.
  • At the end of each week, one contestant is eliminated and the rest advance to the next round.
  • Finally, the last three contestants go head-to-head for the Championship Round, where they have to create a full adventure using ingredients that the judges provide and one or more of their previous submissions (their map, their monster, etc.) to write an adventure.
Ah yes, the GBBO is probably a much more relevant touchstone than a decade-plus-old fashion design show. But yeah, that's exactly the sort of structure I was envisioning
 

Wicht

Adventurer
It could be fun to do a contest that is based on the "Great British Baking Show" format.
  • Start with thirteen contestants and three judges.
  • Each week the judges give a handful of ingredients, and the contestants have 24 hours to post their results.
  • Each week has a theme. Cartography Week: the contestants make a map/scenery/VTT. Monster Week: contestants create an original monster. Random Encounter Week: contestants write a random encounter. NPC Week: the contestants create a non-player character. Or whatever; Dungeon Masters wear lots of hats.
  • At the end of each week, one contestant is eliminated and the rest advance to the next round.
  • Finally, the last three contestants go head-to-head for the Championship Round, where they have to create a full adventure using ingredients that the judges provide and one or more of their previous submissions (their map, their monster, etc.) to write an adventure.
That tracks with what I was thinking of doing, something close anyway. I don't know if doing it once a week is feasible over the long haul, and I don't know if we could get that many contestants, but building up to a final design/adventure is what I was looking at. I also thought about having the contestants have to use one thing from somebody else's creations as well in the final adventure.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Ah yes, the GBBO is probably a much more relevant touchstone than a decade-plus-old fashion design show. But yeah, that's exactly the sort of structure I was envisioning

That tracks with what I was thinking of doing, something close anyway. I don't know if doing it once a week is feasible over the long haul, and I don't know if we could get that many contestants, but building up to a final design/adventure is what I was looking at. I also thought about having the contestants have to use one thing from somebody else's creations as well in the final adventure.

yahoo movies baseball GIF
Field of Dreams 30 day movie challenge GIF
 
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A cartography component to the competition and I'd probably filter myself out, to be honest. Plain text is a leveller, while cartography gives a big leg up to people with mapping/graphic design software and the skills to use it.

I'm a bit leery about going too far into the weeds on a game-mechanical front too. Marrying your system mastery with creativity is certainly a relevant skill when DMing, but it'd really restrict the sort of entries we'd get. I've never even played two of the three game systems I wrote entries for in this competition - I've got no idea how to appropriately stat out a Call of Cthulhu critter. We'd probably get much less variety and weirdness, and much more D&D. Which may be the intended point of the exercise, but it's a definite shift of emphasis from 'traditional' Iron DM.

Of course, if you're going to go full D&D, you could always resurrect the Iron Tapestry format...

Edit: actually it occurs to me that making the next competition into a D&D only thing might have the upside of meaning it can be run on the main D&D board here, where it'd get a lot more eyeballs, rather than being stuck in the relative backwater of TTRPGs General. Might be a way of getting more people involved in the future, given the relatively low number of entrants we had this time around.
 
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Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
Yes, I agree that we should remain entirely a written competition. I don't have much in the way of visual artistic talent myself. But designing individual elements; (race, class, items, npcs, monsters, settings, etc.) and bringing them together in a final product (adventure) sounds like a great test of overall homebrewery design skills.
 
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CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
It’s not arbitrary though. It’s designed to test discipline. And creativity. But discipline first. That’s why the second and third rounds open the word-limits up.
If the purpose is to test discipline, it seems backwards to me. The higher word count should be toward the front of the competition, so that the contest gets more difficult and the writing requires more discipline the further you advance. Unless the first round is intended to be a "weed-out" round, I suppose.

This is just food for thought; don't change it on my account. I will hate a word limit of any size in a creative writing contest.
 
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FitzTheRuke

Legend
I'd be in for any of that. While I'd be fine with making maps and putting monsters in stat-blocks (etc), I agree that on here, it's best left as a writing thing, and would work best as summaries, just like the Iron DM adventures.

Using X Ingredients, describe an interesting NPC, Villain, Monster, Location, Encounter, Magic Item, Trap.

We could follow it up with having a volunteer take the winners and do art or proper stat-blocks.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
A "map" can be textual only. A place, its features, occupants, fauna, flora, weather, etc. .. can be developed and described.

Yes, I would consider this more of a setting than a map, design-wise. Possibly a "location", were it self-contained enough
A "map" can be anything: something you draw on paper or a battlemat, something you build out of minis and terrain, something you rig up in your favorite VTT program, a detailed description that you read to your players ala "theater of the mind." We are all DMs, we all use maps in some way or another...so I think people should just submit their best version of whatever they would normally use.

In GBBO parlance, it could be a "signature challenge."

My two cents, anyway.
 

Wicht

Adventurer
I'm a bit leery about going too far into the weeds on a game-mechanical front too. Marrying your system mastery with creativity is certainly a relevant skill when DMing, but it'd really restrict the sort of entries we'd get.
Personally, I would stay away from running a contest that judges game mechanics.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
Personally, I would stay away from running a contest that judges game mechanics.
Yes, as would I, now that I give it some thought. Perhaps instead of homebrewery, what we're more looking for is interesting and exciting world building. Monster design would thus be less about stat blocks and more about ecology, for instance.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Does it make sense to start up a general "IRON DM DISCUSSION" thread?

Maybe it is just that I am uncovering neat tidbits and patterns as I archive the early tournaments, (a third of the way through Fall 2002, my second), but I keep finding things I want to talk about and consider as we move forward. A lot of the same discussions were taking place back then but also some have been forgotten and others are no longer relevant but still interesting from a historical/culture of the game perspective. (Or maybe I am just taking this all too seriously, which is a thing I do)

Anyway, in Fall 2002 I found the first references to problems of entry length with two second round entries of 2100 and 2400 words going head to head. The writer of the shorter one even included an apology: "I apologize ahead of time for the length of my post. This is the shortest I could see myself making it without cutting something important."

Edit to add that the other entry had a note too! It was just buried in the text, but reads, "I really apologize for the length of this. The scenario got out of hand at about 2am this morning, and I just couldn't stop writing. If I lose for that, 'I regret nothink!'"
 
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Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
A "map" can be anything: something you draw on paper or a battlemat, something you build out of minis and terrain, something you rig up in your favorite VTT program, a detailed description that you read to your players ala "theater of the mind." We are all DMs, we all use maps in some way or another...so I think people should just submit their best version of whatever they would normally use.

In GBBO parlance, it could be a "signature challenge."

My two cents, anyway.
This reminds me of that "Dungeon on a Page" contest that happened a few years, which theoretically could have looked like anything, and there were quite a few grid-and-text entries, but the winner was a masterfully created handdrawn image of an island. As soon as you open up the contest to text or art, I fear that it becomes difficult to not take artistic talent into account, and the playing field becomes much less level.
 

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