Winter IrondDM (Winner)!


First Post
Sorry for the HUGE delay folks. Some work issues consipired against me getting a chance to give this the attention it deserves!

I'll have your judgement by 1:00 PM, EST

edit: I have gone over both entries (one 2x, one 3x), and have picked a winner - am writing up the judgement...still)

Thanks again!
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Once A Fool
Re: Final Round!

incognito said:
Note: extra ingreidents were always for the Grand IronDM Final Round. Since we are not using this, for this round, there are no extra ingredients. [/B]

For the record, in the first Iron DM Tournament to use the optional ingredients variant rule, they were used in both the final round and the championship round. I know; I was in both rounds. And man, they were a real mind-game!


First Post
Final Round

Quickbeam vs. Seasong

Tough, this one was, so tough. Both Quickbeam and Seasong DID come up with the goods this time. Each entry had it’s own strengths, and where they were strong, they were really strong. So the question came to I posed to myself was: who should be the winner, the person with the out-and out best submission for a short adventure, or the persona with the best adventure who stayed closest within the guidelines of the letter and the spirit of the IronDM.

I chose the latter, can you guess who it is?

First, let’s get down to ingredients. I loved Quickbeam’s entry for his metaphorical use of the Lernaean Hydra - Hydrea are not poisonous, and “Lernaean” grow back TWO heads, not one, but still it was excellent. I also liked Quickbeam’s Brass rings – he did not take EITHER bits of bait (a finger ring, or pursing a worthwhile object) – good originality, while still satisfying the ingredient AND incorporating it fully into the story. Seasong’s is pretty excellent too – this one was all about personal preference. Quickbeam’s monk is more ‘believably’ frenzied - though seasong frenzy is imaginative, Quickbeam’s frenzy is inherent. However, EVERYONE in seasongs adventure has a hidden agenda. I love that! Quickbeam’s is fine, don’t get be wrong, but seasong’s agendas are believable, everywhere, and well incorporated. Neither poster’s single combat pulled at my heart strings. Seasong’s was kinda plot devicy, can you have an “honarable, or agreed upon combat between two persons” with an INT 2 beast? Yeah, technically, I guess. And Quickbeans isn’t even that, it’s more like a “one-on-one” ambush. Cycle of life was simply done better by seasong – which I’ll talk about in setting…

So, let’s talk setting. I have to say again: I loved Quickbeam’s his hydra clan, and small fishing town, and opium drug smuggling, fit better in my mind that Seasong’s magical zoo. Magical zoo: good, Clan of the Hydrae controlling drug trade: great. It wasn’t that seasong’s could have been done, it’s just that it fits into fewer campaigns, due to it’s “high magic nature”

Backstory/plot development: Here is where Quickbeam starts to fall down. I warned people that running long was a risk, and Quickbeam adds SO MANY plot hooks and NPCs he lost my interest. The sheriff, and the opium smuggler: great! The Fiend Folio “Berbalang” is completely extraneous, adds nothing, and confuses the issue, all to use the ingredient “cycle of life” – not as impressed with this one. Also, the trite little kid witnessing the whole things, and the Clerics of Cuthbert getting involved, as yet another loop, and whorl in this submission, which I felt needed some major belt tightening. Seasong’s has the one issue of the adventure being all backstory, and less in the way of actual adventure, unless we include those ‘oh so handy’ plot spin offs/hooks. To stae it specifically, it’s a much better adventure, if the PCs either know the Monk, or the ranger, or were the ones who had killed the Hydea’s parents. I would give serious consideration to thinking about what needs to be spin, and what needs to be core adventure. I also thing seasong omitted something in the spinoffs/hooks. The party is there for reasons there, own, but the owners of the zoo have hired a team of adventurers, per the standard hooks, to defend themselves. Unfortunately, that group of adventurers are…what was it?... ”incompetent louts who couldn't protect a pickle jar”

Metagame considerations: Both posters picked the same range of level. With seasong's, it does not much matter. All the hooks are hidden enough that a commune (yes or no), or a divination is not going to spoil the fun too much. Spells like teleport are not going to hinder the pacing , because all the action is local, and a ranger can “hide” from scrying – and the PCs are meant to find him – it’s almost a ‘conclusion.’. Seasong should note that a L11 monk is CR11, not CR 9, but given the combat setup, this should not be too much of a stretch for many parties. Quickbeam’s set up is a little more sensitive to divinations, which is why he threw in the “Berbalang” in the first place – but by golly, I disliked that red herring. Toooo contrived. He needs to take steps to more closely ward his coven of monks from higher level PCs. None of Quickbeams level stuff was included in the body, so he is fine in this respect.

Length: Words Quickbeam 2,600ish Seasong 2,000ish. Big advantage to seasong, since, as I stated that the plot/development ran long, Quickbeam did not have to get everything extra, extra, extra, convoluted. He could’ve turned the entire Monks backgrounds into “Once there was an order of monks, led by an elf, that was symbolically linked to the hydra” and saved ~100 words!

Playability: both scenario’s are playable and have enough hooks, and areas of interest what a wide variety of characters could enjoy them. Great job to both. No edge.

Originality: While Quickbeam’s was more imaginative, in my mind –this one line worries me: “This story was inspired by The Five Deadly Venoms” especially when we have had one issue with borrowing from an author. I have not read the book, but I can almost guarantee seasong’s is 100% seasong. And this is really important to me as IronDM judge.

So, If you can’t guess by now – I’ll lay it out. Qucikbeam’s adventure, out of the confines of IronDM, is the better adventure. His setting is excellent, and you can tighten up his NPCs or edit them out without too much of a loss. I find his NPCs to be more believable in their aspirations as well. But within the confines of IronDM, it’s simply too long, with some possible problems of originality, possible meta-game holes, and he misses on one ingredient (cycle of life) because that berblang is such a red herring.

Winner of Winter IronDM

gentlemen, please post exposition.
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No Trouble at All
Whew. Congrats Seasong!

Now I can say that I may have lost in the first round, but I lost to the guy who won the crown!

Quickbeam - I agree that I loved the hydra image for the secret society. While it may not have been the specific MM creature called out, it's a great monster and a great image.

I can't wait for the exposition.



I have to say, I thought there was a fair chance that I'd be undefeated through two Iron DM tournaments when the ingredients for this Final Round battle were posted. Alas, it was not to be. Congrat's seasong on a fine performance!

I'm massively under the weather; there's a lot to cover in the exposition; and I want to reply to some of the judge's remarks. Look for my post later tonight or sometime tomorrow.


First Post
First: total agreement on the "better adventure" aspect. Over in my story hour, incognito lured one of my players over here to read through the stuff and her first comment on the final round was "Good entry, Thomas... but, I kinda like Quickbeam's better".

She's a pretty finicky player, and that's pretty high praise.

So, exposition on ingredients first:

Brass Ring & Frenzy: I took BOTH bits of bait, naturally. Generally, kind of weak, but I do like how I mixed this ingredient with the frenzy. And incognito's snipe aside ;), I like how I mixed it with the monk! Still, I can see how the ingredients were not seen as particularly strong.

Zoo: Monks have shown up in a LOT of IronDMs as an ingredient, in one form or another. And every time they have, the setting has morphed to include a monastery. Even QuickBeam's. Just once, I wanted something different... and so instead of a monastery, I got a zoo. Once I had the zoo, much of the rest of the plot resolved itself, including the Great White Hunter monk (taking a liberty with the "constantly testing oneself" description in the PHB) and the ranger with a conflict of interest (I shoulda had him in that IronDM home game instead of Muriel, long ago).

Hydra & Cycle of Life: As mentioned, the zoo fit everything together. Mouth just sort of popped out as a good monk target, and zoos are all about cycles of life.

Hidden Agenda: I'll quote myself here.
Note: I typically enjoy having very political situations, and most of my scenarios involve hidden agendas for someone. Heck, I hardly call something an agenda iffen it ain't hidden.
My first entry (Fool's Cold) was actually a better example of hidden agendas, with some agendas that could really bite the players in the butt. Even my second entry, as rotten as it was, had a hidden agenda! So I honestly considered this to be a weak use of the ingredient (somewhat deliberately - I rebelled by making the scenario itself fairly straightforward).

Single Combat: Yeah, weak, I know. It was more in how the monk viewed the situation, than in the actual situation :).

With that covered, designer's notes!

I knew as soon as I saw the ingredients that I wanted to write a straight-forward set of encounters/combats with maybe a chase scene... And I also knew that there would be no monastery. Call me a curmudgeon if you must :).

Since I didn't have any idea how to achieve that immediately, I went and read the flavor text for the monk and hydra, skimmed through the rings in the DMG for one that was made out of brass (answer: ring of warmth), and generally killed time while my muse thought things through.

The first thing that jumped out at me was the fact that the hydra was neutral... an oddity, since it is so often presented as a MONSTER, yet here it is, a simple animal cursed with a healthy appetite. That gave me the idea for a zoo, and I immediately knew that, win or lose, I HAD to have a zoo where others would put a monastery.

So then I tried to figure out why a monk would be at a zoo, and the Great White Hunter with a Hidden Agenda was born. Cycle of Life just fit right in. The ranger just grew out of the interaction, and when I read back through for new hidden agendas, so did poisoning the food and the academy's hiring of adventurers... and then, as I was taking notes on hooks, I worked out hidden agendas the PCs might have.

I still needed a frenzy and a brass ring, and as I was staring at the two of them, and thinking about rings of warmth, my muse summoned up the city of brass, fire, rings, and the fact that the lernaean hydra has to be burned to be killed... the only way a monk is likely to kill a hydra by himself!

Once my writing frenzy subsided, I worked on details of the zoo, fleshed out a few niggling details, and checked to make sure incognito wasn't going to nail me on divination/teleport spells a 7-8 level caster could throw.

Then I cut out about 500 words that weren't strictly necessary, and still ended up at 2000+.


First Post
Now, fully 2 hours after the judgement has been posted, and even after having written the exposition... seasong realizes that he won.

*dances in a little circle*


Ahem, I'm better now.


First Post
by the way...

I will be running a "winner circle" IronDM contest in the not too distant future.

You have to have WON a 'typical' IronDM run by me or nemmerle (so losing against VAX in a sudden death round would not disqualify you).

Proof of the win is a link to the thread, so archive if possible.

That IronDM will be round robin too (not single elimination)

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No Trouble at All
Yar, you'll have to earn that Spring Iron DM.
[cracks knuckles]

Great job everyone. This was a lot of fun to read all the way through. A big hearty thanks to incognito for judging it.

Oh, and thanks to his Amazing Ingredient Machine as well...



First Post
And what do you mean by "strategies"?

I belive the "mythagoes" of ,EN World, once they fine tune, will rule the roost. The "old guns" in an effort to out do themslelves, either get too wordy, or psyche themselves out.

How do you think VAX was able to win 3 in a row?

Round robin (I think) it means everyone plays everyone.
Sometimes the best record wins, sometimes it's a points thing. This would be a bonus IronDM anyway
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Indigo Veil

First Post
She's a pretty finicky player, and that's pretty high praise.

<gives a grin that the Cheshire would be proud of> ...Mreow? =^o.o^= (<---- that's a kitty. ^.^)

I'm glad that seasong won, since he really is a good DM who deserves some attention and appreciation, but I have a few other things to say (and I hope no one minds):

Quickbeam, your use of the hydra ingredient simply captured my heart as a player, fickle though I may be. ^_^;; I read that, and my jaw dropped open at the creative use of the ingredient.

Greybar, your first round was really awesome, too--I totally didn't envy incognito his job of judging the round.

I was really impressed with a lot of the writing, especially since the contest has some pretty harsh rules on word count. Some of you did such a good job of imparting the flavor and feel of your worlds, and I actually became so immersed in them, that I actually felt somewhat saddened when the entry ended. (Greybar, you're one of the people in this category)

I'm new to EN World (I'm only here because seasong alerted me to its existence), and I'm usually here only to read seasong's story hour, but I will definitely read through the entries of the IronDM stuff from now on. Thanks, everyone, for exposing me to something new, and for sharing with me some really amazing reading material.

Lastly, incognito, great job on don't seem to cut anyone any slack, and I can't believe how incredibly *thorough* you are. I'm sure you must devote a lot of time to each and every entry you receive, and *god*, the detail you put into your rationale! Good job. ^_^

Thanks again, everyone!


First Post
Originally posted by incognito
I belive the "mythagoes" of ,EN World, once they fine tune, will rule the roost. The "old guns" in an effort to out do themslelves, either get too wordy, or psyche themselves out.
Ah... yes, I agree. Absolutely.

I can do succinct, but it takes me too long to compress. Give me a week, and I can put together a 500 word thing of beauty, but when I'm just concentrating on getting it all down, expansion is the name of the game.

People with a natural talent for clarity at short lengths are going to eat my cake. And, if you'll read my posts earlier, I thought they should have done so this time.

On the other hand, the size of my entries has wavered up and down, but has stayed pretty close to a range of 1700-2300 words, so I wouldn't say I'm outdoing myself in length.
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First Post
A quick idea for an alternative way to select Iron DM contestents...

This is designed so that people who check the message boards only three or four times a day still have a chance to get in and play.

Instead of automatically letting the first 8 interested people play, you could take the first 12 "I want in!" folks and randomly select the 8 players and 4 alternates. This might get a little fresh blood in the game.

You could call it "Roulette Style Iron DM" or something.

Just a thought, from somebody who's wanted to give it a shot several times and only just now gotten as far as "alternate..."
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First Post
Actually, incognito already did something for this: he posted, a few weeks prior, exactly when he was going to open the IronDM to contestants. It took an hour and a half to fill, so there was plenty of time for occasional checkers there, if they set their calendars and checked somewhere between 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm EST.

Of course, I say this and I'm one of the worst compulsive checkers out there :eek:.

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