Winter IrondDM (Winner)!

incognito

First Post
Contrary to poplular belief, this is not the "seasong groupie" thread, although you'd be hard pressed to convince a stranger of that.

Yes, Hank, you can have your DM back! :D

I am really looking forward to Quickbeams exposition!

MerakSpielman: As seasong mentioned, I did have an announcement a week earlier. It depended on interested parties to keep it on the front page, though.

I am having a hard time thinking of a time that would allow both sides of the glode a 'convienent' time to sign up. So maybe your suggestion has merit. What I like about the current format is the users who check the webpage all the time can be counted on to stay in the contest, and post commentary, and react quickly to say they are ready for a round to begin.
 

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seasong

First Post
incognito said:
Contrary to poplular belief, this is not the "seasong groupie" thread, although you'd be hard pressed to convince a stranger of that.
Yeah, this is the "mythago groupies-to-be" thread. The "seasong groupie" thread is out back, being shot.
I am having a hard time thinking of a time that would allow both sides of the glode a 'convienent' time to sign up. So maybe your suggestion has merit. What I like about the current format is the users who check the webpage all the time can be counted on to stay in the contest, and post commentary, and react quickly to say they are ready for a round to begin.
Personally, I think a week's warning should suffice for anyone. If we get too antsy about making sure absolutely everyone has an equal and fair chance to play in IronDM, it starts to feel more like Sunday school and less like the vicious beast of competition it should be. Think of devoted attention to the boards is the "qualifying round" :p:).
 

Quickbeam

Explorer
Well, here it goes...

One of my favorite Kung Fu movies of all time is Five Deadly Venoms -- a cult classic that includes the phrase "poison clan rocks the world." How can you not like a movie with dialogue like that?!? Anyway, after seeing the list of ingredients, I really didn't want to create a story around the hydra as a monster...it just seemed too obvious and boring. So I went online and did a little reading about the Lernaean Hydra, and found a variety of stories connected to this mythical beast.

**sidebar** FWIW, I need to take issue with some of the Judge's remarks here. Incognito says that hydrae are not poisonous and that the Lernaean version grew back TWO heads for every ONE that was severed. In many of the renditions of this tale, the hydra's heads were indeed venomous. Also, some versions had one head growing back, while others had two. The point is, we did not get a MM hydra, but rather the beast of mythical lore as I read things. That hydra fit my story's metaphorical use depending on which version you chose. **/sidebar**

It was the venomous heads that inspired my version of the "poison clan" for this adventure. The frenzied, elven monk was perfect as the clan's (nearly) immortal leader and central figure, and finding a way to make him frenzied wouldn't be tough.

I wanted my clan to have insidiously worked their way into positions of control and power within the setting's city, and the idea that they might have begun smuggling sounded plausible and deviously fun. To create another layer of intrigue, I designed a noble Sheriff, basically above suspicion within Trumbull, who has stumbled onto this lucrative illicit venture. He becomes my primary vehicle for someone with a hidden agenda, although it would not be unreasonable to say that everything about the hydra clan's existence and motives were part of Lucien's hidden agenda.

I loved the idea that the Sheriff's ceremonial chain mail could provide an excellent clue for the party, while seemlessly incorporating the brass ring element. And once drawn into the mix, I thought it was pretty reasonable that my hydra clan monks would seek to deal with the snooping PC's in single combat by way of ambush and misdirection. Remember, they don't communicate frequently with one another, so a concerted attack wouldn't fit logically. Add to that, their various position's within Trumbull, and luring the party members into private meetings made the story appear dark and mysterious to my mind.

That left the cycle of life which leads me to another...

**sidebar** If we are to suffer the scrutiny of our estemeed Judge's (Nemmerle and Incognito), then they need to answer ours on occasion -- fair is fair ;). During this tournament I was left confused by the misuse of several phrases. The common sayings are circle of life and viscious cycle, not the other way around. Truth be told, in my Round 2 entry, I was sorely tempted to create a cursed bracelet as my viscious circle that animated once worn and would then attempt to bite clean through its wearer's limb :D!! **/sidebar**

Back to my expo, this ingredient stumped me for awhile, until I pulled a "Quickbeam" by going old school and digging up another bizarre monster of yesteryear, in the Berbalang. At the time, I thought this was a cool use of the ingredient because this beast actually has a unique life cycle. Furthermore, its attack on Cyrn Po's corpse would help the Sheriff cover his tracks and perhaps mislead the PC's for a short while -- both good things IMO. On reflection, though, I should have used this ingredient as a tie in to Lucien's recruitment of new clan members based on his human pupil's shorter cycles of life. This theme element was poorly used, and Incognito was totally justified in slamming me here.

In reviewing the Judge's remarks and criticisms at length, I want to respond directly to a few more.
> I disagree that Jasper and Brother Horace were unnecessary. Without an eyewitness, I would have been completely relying on the PC's investigative skills and luck to solve the mystery. Additionally, Nemmerle and Phoamslinger taught me a valuable lesson in other tournaments: You need several compelling Hooks when crafting an adventure. Otherwise, why would the party care to participate? In my scenario, if the PC's don't bite after the general alarm, Brother Horace approaches and appeals to their sense of justice. If that doesn't work, Lucien can seek to hire the PC's at a hefty price to allegedly protect his trade routes and business interests.
> I agree the entry was too long, but of late these tales have just gotten away from me. It's the fun of creating an interesting story, and I like details :)!
>Finally, I'm not sure how much you counted the fact that I used a movie for base inspiration against me (if at all), but since you've never seen the film I hope it wasn't very much. I volunteered this info because of the problems in my opponent's Round 1 entry. Almost every story in every one of these contests draws on elements of books we've read; movies we've scene; or adventures we've played. That doesn't make them unoriginal IMO, and Nemmerle voices the same thoughts on more than one occasion in judging earlier tournaments.

Incognito: I think that I made several key mistakes in this Final Round, not the least of which was appealing to the preferences (or my perception thereof) of a different Judge. I also ignored your request to keep the story length down, and failed to inspire you like my opponent did, even though you liked the way I utilized several ingredients. My job is to win the heart and mind of the Judge, and it appears I came up just short this time out. Thanks for taking the time to review all of these entries.


Parting thoughts
1) As I stated yesterday, I thought I had a legit shot at winning back-to-back Iron DM's once the Final Round ingredients were posted. That's why I waited to alter my sig to include any reference to Iron DM competition.
2) Truth be told, though, I felt fortunate to be in the Finals this time around. My efforts in the Holiday tournament were more inspired...and succinct ;). If I'd been judging, Mythago and Nifft would have been in the Finals. I think they both presented more polished entries than either Seasong or I did.
3) Thanks to everyone who followed this tournament, and for all of the kind words posted in recent days. I love this place :D!!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot -- I'll be back!!
 
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incognito

First Post
While I don't, in general, want to start up the practice of competitors questioning the judges decision -I'm happy to explain my comments to contestants who post them in exposition.

I'll say this, for clarity: Part of the fun of IronDM is the subjective nature of the judging. I try to be objective, but I do have personal preferences. And this is the IronDM - with certain rules (spoken or unspoken). Flout them at your own risk.

Quickbeam: I loved your Hydra analogy. "Lernaean" has a very specific 3E definition. I expected that definition would be given a nod. Your monk as the 'immortal' head of the clan was still superior.

Your second comment is less well recived. From Meridian Webster:

Main Entry: vicious circle
Function: noun
Date: circa 1792
1 : a chain of events in which the response to one difficulty creates a new problem that aggravates the original difficulty
2 : an argument or definition that begs the question

cycle of life is an interpretation of life cycle:

Main Entry: life cycle
Function: noun
Date: 1873
1 : the series of stages in form and functional activity through which an organism passes between successive recurrences of a specified primary stage
2 : LIFE HISTORY 2
3 : a series of stages through which something (as an individual, culture, or manufactured product) passes during its lifetime

So, take it with a grain of salt, if you are used to a different phrasing.

Finally, I'm not sure how much you counted the fact that I used a movie for base inspiration against me (if at all),

I did not discount your entry much for this, and I recognised that you probably did this the reasons you state. It did raise the question - and we did have an actual problem earlier in this very contest. My analogy is akin to speeding by a cop at 10 m.ph. over the speed limit on the highway. Everyone does it, and no one really gets pulled over for it, but the cop DOES, at least, notice.

In closing: plot hooks are a great idea! Including another loop or whorl in a lenghty Iron DM submission...not as good. I can think of 3 other plot hooks, just using the sherif, the opium dealer, and the halfling.

all of us DO aniously await your return Quickbean, and as I've said -> Outside the IronDM confines, yours is the better adventure.
 
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Quickbeam

Explorer
Seasong:
Next time, I'll be sure to remind you of my prior achievements beforehand ;). Once again congrats!!

Incognito:
Thank you for the reply to my exposition. Perhaps my jibe about the less commonly used phrasing of those theme elements was inappropriate. However, I did want you to know that your choice of words left me wanting to go in other directions with those ingredients. Out of curiousity, how would you have reacted to my cursed bracelet use of the vicious circle? I ask because you seemed pretty darn receptive to some of my other offbeat ingredient uses, but it's hard to say where the invisible threshhold of acceptance resides.

I'm glad to know that you didn't heavily weigh my story's inspiration against me in the judging process. I fully understand the adventures crafted for Iron DM are supposed to be original (and mine was), but I wanted others to know where the concept behind the Hydra Clan came from.

Finally, I genuinely appreciate all of the kudos you bestowed upon my entries throughout this tournament, including the statement that mine was the better adventure outside the confines of Iron DM. As I've said before, judging is hard, subjective, and oftentimes thankless, work. I believe you applied your principles consistently and fairly, and deemed my opponent more deserving of victory. No worries :).

I look forward to the next Iron DM tournament, whether it be in May or sometime sooner.
 

Quickbeam

Explorer
Seasong:

One other thing I've been meaning to say. Your group of players is mighty supportive of you, which speaks volumes about their opinions of your abilities as a DM.

My players only frequent EN World occasionally (the heathens ;)), which means that any support I get in these competitions is handsomely paid for on a per post basis :D.
 

mythago

Adventurer
Yar, you'll have to earn that Spring Iron DM.

Is that a...challenge? ;)

Hey, I'll take my groupies any way I can get 'em. But I do like the "round robin" Iron DM idea--let more people jump in, by all means!
 


incognito

First Post
Out of curiousity, how would you have reacted to my cursed bracelet use of the vicious circle? I ask because you seemed pretty darn receptive to some of my other offbeat ingredient uses, but it's hard to say where the invisible threshhold of acceptance resides.

Well quickbeam, if the ingredient was central in the story, or if it was a pertinent clue that a man without his hand might run afoul of the circle then by all means, extrapolate away.

The only time I take away points for ingreient use is when they are tacked on, or if the author uses the "obvious" definition of an ingredient yet incorrectly interprets that meaning. This was a subject of some debate for magic ring of irony

Nifft: you thread stealer! Awww, ok, I'll go check it out now.

See eyeryone in a month or two for Spring IronDM.
 

Quickbeam

Explorer
Incognito:
Thanks for the reply. Hopefully you (and everyone else herein) understands that none of my remarks were meant to sound like a spoilsport complaining. I prefer making direct replies to your comments in my expositions in an attempt to explain how I saw things while drafting the story, in comparison to how things were received by you (the reader). There is no intent to argue, but if I'm going to compose expository posts, I do want folks to see where I was coming from...and why my interpretation rang truw to me. Nonetheless, YOU are the Judge, and YOUR interpretation of each entry is what ultimately determines who moves on and who goes home.
I look forward to the next contest this spring, and will attempt to rediscover my ability to craft succinct adventures that catch the Judge's fancy from the onset and never lets go ;)!!

Nifft:
Iron NPC sounds awesome, but I'm gonna just watch from the wings. My poor little Entish brain is exhausted from the last two Iron DM tournaments!!
 
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