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Old Sep 15th, 2015, 07:03 PM
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Meet the Judges!

This thread is for each of the main judges for this year's competition to introduce themselves and share a little about what they think the ideal submission would look like. All contestants are recommended to read this thread carefully, and note down what their judges are looking for, and how they will score you. Take heed - what one might find palpable, another may overlook. What one deems abhorrent, another may merely feel is bothersome.
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Old Sep 16th, 2015, 08:00 PM
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The First Judge Enters

Meet Judge Smails
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If you don't get this reference, PLEASE spend your time learning more about it instead of entering this contest. It will be time well spent.
The first judge enters the room with a sneer on his lip, his disdain for those who were gathered evident on his face. "Don't you people have jobs?" he wonders, shocked at the number of people that have gathered for this ridiculous tournament.

Clearing his throat to gather the attention of the onlookers, the judge begins to lecture those present in a stern baritone voice. "Now then, you won't get much in the way of compliments from me, but I will be clearly pointing out your faults, I'm sure there will be plenty of them. But even though I'll be firm, understand that I am only doing it so you'll learn. Why, I've sentenced boys younger than you to the gas chamber. Didn't want to do it. I felt I owed it to them." the judge explains.

"Like I said, winning isn't for everyone. Only one of you can win the coveted prize of a virtual sticker next to your name badge. The rest of you will get nothing, and like it! " he snarls, making it clear that he wouldn't be making this easy on any of them.

"Someone has to win this thing. It could be you, if you play your cards right. But first, you'll need to understand the rules so you can obey them.

I have an expectation that your submissions are well written, organized and within the word counts set forth. But if I thought you couldn't do something as simple as that I wouldn't be wasting my time with you.

After that, there are three main things I'll be looking for during this contest. I've even listed them out in their order of importance. The first and the most obvious is the use of the theme ingredients. Use them well, because interesting uses are the most important thing I'll be looking for. Then I am looking for something easy to play, something even my idiot nephew Spaulding could handle. And finally, I want to be entertained. If I'm taking the time to read over your review, I expect it to be enjoyable."
he explains.
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"In closing, I'll leave you with a little poem about working under the uncomfortable conditions you'll be subject to in this tournament,

It's easy to grin
When your ship comes in
And you think your opponent is beat

But the man worthwhile,
Is the man who can smile,
When his shorts are too tight in the seat.

On vacation June 7 - 13.

Posting during this time will be brief and most likely written during an inebriated state.

Last edited by Squeak; Sep 16th, 2015 at 08:09 PM.
Old Sep 17th, 2015, 10:22 AM
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The Second Judge

An imposing figure steps into the arena, surrounded by smoke and the smell of brimstone. His clean-cut suit looks sharp enough that you might bleed if you tried to touch it. He casts his imposing glare around the room...

...then, is rudely shoved aside, as a much more average-sized fellow, in a blue plaid shirt and glasses storms in behind him. "Every time." The smaller man mutters, "You ruin my entrance every time. Mobster, return!"

The larger man bursts into a formless swirl of red energy, drawn into a red and white orb in the smaller man's hand. "Hello everyone, I'm RonarsCorruption. You may also know me as Michael McCarthy." He raises his eyebrows, "Yes, yes, my real name on the internet. How shocking. It's almost like I'm not trying to hide from you or something."

He finds a chair at the judges table, nodding to the grumpy small man who had been yelling at you until a moment before, and begins talking, gesturing with his hands all the while.

"As I said, I'm RonarsCorruption. Admin RonarsCorruption, now. Call me RC, or Arc, or Cola or what-have-you. I'm a professional freelance writer. I make real money doing this sort of thing professionally. I've written and designed and edited for Paizo and Rogue Genius Games and Dreamscarred Press and LPJ Design, and I've been doing it for nearly three years now. I've also been gaming for twenty years or so: long enough to know my stuff."

"I'm a bit of a Randy, as it were, in terms of judges. I try to be optimistic, yet fair. Most of all, I aim to be constructive. I won't just say "your intro is terrible", I'll say "your intro is terrible because. I want you to get better year to year, and even round to round. But that doesn't mean I'm going to give you a freebie."

"So, impress me."

He leans back in his chair, "you know you want to try."

mechanics of it all
I will be judging entries, on the following rough categories:
Runnabilty From a GM's perspective, would, or could I run this game? How easy would it be? This factors in things like completeness and presentation, as well as plot holes and any mechanics you might introduce.
Playability From a player's perspective, would I enjoy playing in this game? This factors in things like balance and creativity.
Special I'm a big fan of people being professional and nice people all the time, and sometimes I need to make a point of calling out people if they are or not. I won't always, or even often use this category, but if I do I'll give giving points or penalties depending on factors outside the scope of the raw competition - like trash talking other competitors or bringing to our attention that your opponent's internet exploded.
Ingredient Use This is pretty obvious, but I'll be considering for each ingredient how much it makes sense, how important it is, and whether it matches how I perceive what the ingredient should be.
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Old Sep 19th, 2015, 10:18 PM
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The next judge waits silently, regarding the empty hall before him with a critical eye. After several long minutes of waiting, he digs a hand into his jacket breast pocket and withdraws an ornate pocket watch. He frowns and pockets the offending timepiece again, grumbling under his breath about how 'in his day, people knew to be on time.' He happens to glance behind him, and sees that he has in fact been facing the wrong way all this time, and that the crowd has assembled already. "Ahem.. right. What's all this then?"

"The time has come once again to see which of you deserves the coveted title of Iron DM. Amongst those of you gathered here today, one - and only one - will prove themselves worthy. This year, I have been asked to lend my valuable time and effort by serving as a judge for the competition. I consider myself a fair man, if your entry is deserving of praise, then you shall receive it, but you will find me a hard man to impress."

"You will be judged on the following metrics:

Story, out of 10 points
Every band needs a crowd, and every DM needs players. And in order to get those players, he needs an adventure that they will will want to play. What would your adventure be like as a player? Creativity and originality are important to be certain, but as is coherence. If your plot is a knotted mess with enough holes that I could use it as a soup strainer, it will not matter how original the idea may be. Above all: would I enjoy playing this adventure? Word of warning: I find the undead dreadfully boring.

Technical, out of 10 points
Of course, there is more required than just an idea. This is Iron DM, not Iron Novelist. Your adventure needs to be balanced properly for the rules of the game, whatever system you choose. Is all the information present to run a game? There is no need to waste valuable words on detailed stat blocks, but I should be able to take your adventure and run a game with it with minimal additional work on my part. Additionally, entry formatting, writing quality, and word count limit will all factor into this category.

Ingredients, out of 10 points each
The real meat and potatoes of your entry. If it were simply a contest of who could make the best adventure there would be no need for all this rigmarole. No, the real challenge comes from implementing the ingredients that you are given and making a workable adventure out of them. Creative ingredient use is to be expected and rewarded, but I am far more interested in how well you tie those ingredients into the overall story.

"Several years ago, I myself stood where you are all standing now. I know well the challenges that await you. Good luck. I believe you will need it."
Bleach d20: Trouble in Paradise (HoF: 2015) [Co-DM] || Purge (HoF: 2017) [GM]
Old Sep 20th, 2015, 04:13 AM
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The sound of a loud crash in the back and some angry ranting heralds the arrival of the next judge, hobbling out of the back office like a swimmer walking on the beach while trying to keep an inflatable ducky tire around his waist. "I'm telling you, Big H, that recombulatastinaticor is a bit too multi-functional, it's not going to be able to filter ingredient submissions the way you w... oh, are the contestents in here already?! Why am I always the last to know these things?"

The little nutcase sighs, turning towards you and offering a winning smile. "Hi there. My names Gibs, it's short for... well, what do you care what it's short for, you're here to talk competition, right? Basically I'm here because Hvg read that line in the Evil Overlord list about needing a five year old child advisor, but SAG-AFTRA was really sticking it to him on labor laws and hiring a tutor so he figured, 'Hey, gnomes are all little anyway, same thing, right?'" The smile drops to the floor, and the gnome's eyes narrow. "It's not, you know. Not the same thing. At all."

Gibs takes a moment to sniff under his arm, and whatever he smells makes him decide it's time to toss one of the tools off of his belt and throw it as far away from himself as possible. "Now, let's talk about putting the crit in criteria, shall we? I don't have no fancy point system like Mister Past Winner up there. I'm a bit like the IRS - I've got lots of power, have no idea what I'm doing, and your fate depends on how well I can perform an audit using loosely defined, ever-changing standards that you can only guess at." He digs into his pouch and pulls out a donut, snacking on it while he talks.

"Now there are a couple of tips I can give you, if I'm the judge you're looking to impress." Impish gnome laughter fills the area as he starts giggling. "Although tip number one would be try for a different judge, right? Hah!" He settles down a bit. "But assuming you ignore that rule, then you're going to want to watch your grammar and tense. VERY carefully. I'd say I'm a grammar nazi, but they're pretty forgiving about it compared to me. Bad grammar in Iron DM is like using a garbage can lid to serve the food on Iron Chef - the dish may taste delicious, but I ain't gonna notice cause I ain't gettin' over the presentation, y'know?"

"Ya also wanna be real real careful about internal consistency where I'm concerned. I eat plot holes for breakfast." He wipes donut off his face, digging into his pouch for something to wash it down with. "Like Back to the Future, since we're gonna be celebratin' DeLorean Arrival Day during this competition. They rip a fuel line in the west, ain't no gas for miles... but no one thinks to just siphon the tank of the other DeLorean, the one just sittin' there waitin' t'be dug up in 1955? How does someone brilliant enough to invent a time machine miss that? I ain't sayin' yer NPCs haveta be all smart like, of course. Dumb is dumb is dumb and all that. But if it says 18 on their sheet, you better at least hang the lampshade somewhere, got it?" He finally digs out something liquidy, and despite not appreciating it's smell, he chugs it before speaking again. "The other thing I'll tell ya, it's more about how to get my bonus points than about how to not tick me off. See me? I like a little spice in my soup, y'know what I mean? A little push against the grain, as it were. No matter how serious your plot is, there's room for a little joke in there, even if it's deadpan humor. Conversely, if you're pitchin' wacky puns all day, find a way to take it to a dark place in there somewhere. Treat a drama like a comedy and a comedy like a tramp, know what I'm sayin'?"

Suddenly Gibs lets out several long, hacking coughs. "A'ite, that's enough outta me, I'm goin' back t'workin' in the back. Good luck to y'all, an' hey, if this DM thing don't work out for ya, maybe think about a job at a hardware store or somethin'. Be good to see a friendly face in there, the last five guys they had didn' seem t'take to me. Go fig."
Returning to RPGX in Early January!

Last edited by arin12; Sep 20th, 2015 at 04:16 AM.
Old Sep 20th, 2015, 06:43 PM
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You hear heavy footsteps and muttered curses rushing up the hallway. "Damned Sunday drivers...slow...naturally...redlights..accident on Main St why not?.." Suddenly the door bursts open and a dishevelled man enters the room. Narrowing his eyes the man looks around the room before checking the paper in his hand. Looking up he asks "Room 103 right? Iron DM?" before spotting the other judges. "Ahh yes good then, I made it. There may have been some issues with my alarm clock, and then there was this traffic and don't even get me started on the parking... Oh right. The introduction."

Clearing his throat the man stands up straighter before addressing the crowd.

"It seems I've been invited to judge this little event of yours. In an effort to keep things simple I shall be using this to decide!" The man exclaims producing a pair of oversized dice from his pocket. "Every round I will simply roll them..." the man trails off as he hears a cough from the judges section. Glancing over his shoulder the man notices the look.

"What?!?" he hisses behind him. "I thought we agreed I could use the dice.." he whispers, holding a hand up to the audience for pause. "Fine!" he retorts bitterly before turning back around.

"It seems upon further reflection I will be carefully reading and assessing your work based on its individual merit." The man announces, tossing the dice over his shoulder where they clatter across the ground before coming to rest on a pair of 1's.

"I suppose it's only fair that I at least tell you what I'm looking for." The man says approaching the chalkboard.

As the man draws a piece of chalk from his pocket the light catches the menacing edges adorning the end. Placing the chalk against the board the man begins to write as the room is filled with a soul rending screech. Oblivious to the sound and its obvious effects on the mental well being of the audience the man writes a short list of items.
  • Story: I'd like something interesting and exciting to read. Boring games lose players, so boring games shouldn't win Iron DM.
  • Mechanics: This one here is a two parter. The mechanics of your game need to be spot on, and the mechanics of your post need to be as well. Significant use of typos will prove to be a hindrance, and I strongly advise you to remain within the word count.
  • Ingredients: Obviously failure to use ingredients will be detrimental to your success, but I'd also like to see creative use of the ingredients. Don't be afraid to explore the words you've been given. If the word has more than one meaning get funky and mix it up a little bit. Warning: Esoteric allegory is great, but don't sacrifice cohesion.
"I've always admired the length of your brevity" - Dirkoth

Last edited by Raylorne; Sep 21st, 2015 at 01:43 AM.
Old Sep 22nd, 2015, 12:49 AM
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A man walks into the room and silently takes a seat. GodRosen sits wearing a kimono with a winged mountain on the back of it, and a smaller version winged mountain on the front, about where a pocket would sit if he was wearing a suit.

"Well it looked like I came in the wrong clothes. Look at this," GodRosen looks to ARC, "Intimidating," Rosen's sight changes to Smails, "Intimidating" Rosen's head turns to Melchior " I do not allow you to tell me he is not intimidating. A point system, oh boy!" GodRosen sticks his thumb out toward the back room then says, "Gibs? He even told you to find another judge he has such an intimidating look going on. Then finally we have Raylorne and just to put it out there anyone comes in complaining about sunday traffic can't be good news for you. No offense Raylorne, but I don't hear too many complaints about traffic.

"So now what does that leave me? Probably a passive SOB who is going to be a pushover compared to the other judges. DO NOT underestimate me though, I am a collections agent and you need to make your bills on time, for their entire monthly payment, and don't you dare skip out on those late charges."

GodRosen takes a minutes realizing what he just said, "I mean, put in your entries before the deadline, do not exceed the word count, and include all ingredients. It's kind of the same, right? Being I have not done this before, it's going to be judging based off of utilizing ingredients followed shortly by which one I like better. Happy Hunger Games Iron DMing and may the odds be ever in your favor."

"You are a smart man." Admin Dirk to GodRosen 4/24/2021 @6:05AM
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Old Sep 26th, 2015, 09:41 AM
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"Oh yea, oh yea, oh yea." The clerk intones. "Let all those with business before this honorable Court stand ready and appear before this Court and your case shall be heard."

Behind the desk sits a large man, clad in the robes of his office, stroking his beard contemplatively. "You have come before this Court today to settle the matter of who might be the one deserving, by right, of the title "The Iron DM". I am now prepared to hear your case, alongside my fellow judges. You shall each have the right to present your case which shall be judged upon its merits, and I shall render my verdict accordingly."

"I have sat where you are before, and I well understand the pressures you are under. I would advise you to perform to your strengths, in a manner that you are most comfortable with. Do not attempt to be someone else, but rather attempt to be the best possible version of yourself, and you will certainly find success." he says in a kindly tone, before moving on.

"You shall have limited time to present, which shall be strictly enforced, your application shall address and contain certain points for this Court to consider, and you will be judged accordingly. Late applications, or applications that are overlong shall be punished harshly." he says sternly, eyebrows furrowing.

"I will now hear the first applicant." Judge Bade concludes.

Co-DM of Bleach d20: Trouble in Paradise!
Old Sep 29th, 2015, 12:45 PM
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A lone rider approached the arena on his jet black Ducati, heavily tattooed and dressed in black. He removed his black full face helmet revealing a close cropped head and a face with chiseled features and a mass of scars around the left cheek, eye, and temple as though that part of his face had been dragged across the pavement with a downward force. His sturdy black boots caressed the grass as he stepped carefully into the arena and strode purposefully toward the judges panel but with noticeable trepidation.

After the others had made their presentations, the man in black approached the podium. He was a large man who smiled and spoke softly into the microphone. ”Greetings. My name is Gath and I have been invited to participate as a judge in this event. This will be my first time judging such an event but make no mistake, after ten years in art school I have been thoroughly exposed to the critical process. The art world can be incredibly harsh and equally fickle and all of it is completely subjective. For the most part I rejected this critical process when possible, but that does not mean that I am not aware of its methods.”

The man looked down at the small piece of paper that he’d been crushing in his left hand and then began again. ”I have only been gaming for the past ten years. But of those ten years I have played every day. For a year or two I lived in a place where I was able to play table top for six days a week. This allowed me to be exposed to several different systems, and I have explored those and other systems online, but I have had the longest relationship with 3.5. It would seem that in this competition’s setting, however, that the mechanics of the system that the adventure is using shouldn’t really be much of an issue. My recommendation is to not get bogged down in explaining mechanics and stick to the progression of the adventure.

Anyway, I think, that Gibs said it best when he said, ” I've got lots of power, have no idea what I'm doing, and your fate depends on how well I can perform an audit using loosely defined, ever-changing standards that you can only guess at.” This is pretty much where I am at. However, I have managed to establish a preliminary model for judgment.”

At this time, the man in black looked up and scanned the arena to gauge the audience’s reception of his presentation so far. Then he looked down and switched the top crumpled card with another the one behind it.

”I shall be judging based on the following methods. I have implemented a scaling system which is not much different than a point system. I will try to stick to this for your benefit, but I reserve the right to abandon this method.”


With that said, the rider added, ”Thank you, and good luck. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.” And then he stepped down from the dais and took a seat next to Gibs.
1.1.20 - Reevaluating self. Attempting to learn and grow.
Painting the sky with butterflies and giants, a little boy dragon found a balloon in the sun.

Last edited by Gath; Sep 29th, 2015 at 04:40 PM.
Old Sep 30th, 2015, 01:29 AM
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“Mon Dieu! Non, non, non, non, non!” A tall, impossibly thin man clad in a pristine white chef's uniform stalks into the room, vigorously shaking his head with each emphatic 'non'. “How een zee world ahr zee contestahnts supposed to cook under such condizhons? Zere ees not even a toastahr oven!” His tirade is interrupted by loud 'pssts' and beckoning motions from some of the other judges, and for several long moments the chef bows his head, conferring with the others in animated whispers. From the displeased expression spreading across his face, it seems as if he is being informed that this is not a cooking competition after all. But then again, even if it was, Of course not. I have never, ever DM'ed a game. My experience as a player is limited to Pathfinder and D&D3.5.could one trust such a desperately thin cook?

Finally, the chef dismisses the private discussion with a belligerent wave of his hand. Refusing to admit defeat, he turns up his nose in haughty defiance. “Eet does not matter. Zee contestahnts have eengredients, ahnd eengredients ahr for cooking.” He turns to face the competitors, greeting them with a long, stiff bow. “Allow me to give you some advice.”

If your submission is too long, I won't read it.I do not judge cold food. Do not keep your dinahr waiting.”

“For some unfathomable raison, your recipe ees supposed to be een engleesh. Eef your eengleesh ees as bad and inconsistahnt as my phony frahnch accent, I will blend your recipe with elderberries and Poor grammar and awkward sentence structure annoy me. A lot. (Yes, I can be a hypocrite—I'm a judge.) Such crimes won't merit disqualification, but they will put me in a foul mood ... which will undoubtedly affect my judging and lower your score.feed it to my hamster.”

“Most importahntly, zee eengredients must sparkle and shine. Zee tongue must dance ahnd feel alive een savoring zere For example, if an apple is an ingredient, it should be special. You should not be able to replace the apple with an orange without spoiling the dish.special qualities. But zere also must be do the ingredients blend in a way that makes sense?balance and harmony to fully please zee palate. Zee taste ees I will also judge your submission based on a player's viewpoint (Would I enjoy playing this game? Creativity, interest, plot (and any holes therein) are some factors to consider here.) and a DM's viewpoint (Is the game easy to run? Presentation, organization, providing options, balance are relevant factors here.)zee final considerazhion.”

I may be harsh, but it's all meant in fun. Bonne chance!
On vacation Jun 16 - 30. Limited to no posting during this time.
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Old Oct 14th, 2015, 08:11 AM
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Judge EngrInAZ enters the room, not looking at the contestants as he strides confidently to his position on the bench. When he finally sits down he looks up at the contestants for the first time. He stares at them intently and then pounds his fist on the table, "INGREDIENTS, INGREDIENTS, INGREDIENTS! I don’t care how tasty your story is, if the ingredients are not an integral part of your adventure you will not win. My last bite should be as good as my first bite, and every one in between. I am looking for interesting, creative and original takes on the ingredients provided, but I better be able to recognize them."

I will be grading this year as I did last year, on a point scale. This year I'm adding more points to Ingredients.
0-10 points for each Ingredient - How well is each ingredient incorporated in the story?

Game Play:
0-5 points for Story Concept – The quality of the overall story arc (how much do I want to play this adventure).
0-5 points for Technical Details – How much information is included for the DM?

0-5 points for Grammar/Spelling – How well does the story read?
0-5 points for Cohesion/Structure – How well do the various sections of the adventure flow together, are there hooks and continuation information?
Slowly working my way back.

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Old Oct 14th, 2015, 10:38 PM
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He shuffled in, reeking of wet ashtrays and stale flatulence.

"No, no, Mr. Sturgeon will not be attending today. I am here in his stead," he said, speaking to every one and no one at once.

Looking around at the assembled contestants, then at the judges, he looked surprised.

Then annoyed.

"For some reason, they've asked me to stay." He brushed the front of his jacket, faded lime green like paint peeling off an abandoned highway diner sign from another era, then continued. "Why? I'll never know. "

Clearing his throat.

"Now, as far as how you'll be judged."

Deep breath.

What followed was an elaborate series of farts, some loud and wet as though a swamp burped up its dinner; others, long and thin like the sigh of a clown's balloon. As he passed gas in various tones and colors (for those that might see such things), he performed an intricate tap dance across the stage, weaving in and out, around and through the other judges. After several minutes of these antics, he finished, looking at the contestants with an inquiring gaze.

"Any questions?"

Another judge cleared his throat, and the farting man seemed to come to his senses.

"Oh, you don't speak Margoian, do you? Well then, I'll translate: As I'm told and as, apparently, it's been said, the ingredients are of some importance. I value cohesiveness - these items shouldn't be tacked on as an afterthought or filler. They should work together as a whole."

Pausing, he let out another long fart, punctuated at the end with a sound like a car backfiring.

"No, that wasn't in Margo. That was real. Continuing: it should be entertaining, something I'd want to play. And run, if I have the fancy. And finally, it should be clean, neat, not lacking in appearance. Easy to decipher but not without sophistication." He took a deep breath. "In other words, don't make it a bloody mess to read."

A loud sigh.

"And it goes without saying, every great piece of writing has that certain something that speaks of greatness...maybe one can't put a finger on it, but it speaks to the fathoms of mysteries that lie beyond any rubric or scoring system."

He laughed.

"Can't tell you what that is, but I'll know it when I see it."

And with that, he took his seat.
On indefinite hiatus
Old Oct 15th, 2015, 02:00 AM
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hippo hippo is offline
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Judge Hippo
A large, jovial creature waddles into the room. Decked out in a gold-chased, red velvet jester's robe, the amiable soul approaches the contestants. "Greetings one and all! Welcome to the rest of Iron DM! We're going to have just a wonderful time!" He smiles at everyone. "Just wonderful. I hope I am dressed appropriately - I was told to wear robes." He surveys at his fellow judges, oblivious to the dark looks of the others in their black robes. "Wonderful!"

"I will be judging for the rest of the competition. I am looking forward to reading your fabulous creations, and then giving some feedback and critique as appropriate. Nothing too harsh, all in good fun. It's not worth doing if it isn't fun!" More smiles to everyone else. "Splendid! Simply splendid!"

The creature leans forward, an excited gleam in his eye. "What I am looking for is adventure! To be transported to other worlds! To experience their wonders! I want coherent, living stories that draw me in! Make me want to live in your creation!" His hands are raised in rapture. "Of course, I'll take what I can get." He winks.

"I'll be judging first and foremost on the cohesion of your story and the ingredients. How they all hold together. Is this an adventure or an encounter that is reasonable? Would it be easy for a GM to run? Would players want to play it? Would they have fun?"

"I am not going to worry much about the Classic d20 fantasy, sci-fi, horror, modern, superheroes - it all works for mesystem, or the Oh no - that is the wrong level item to use there! Egads! Those are incorrect stats! For shame!specific mechanics But I want things to make sense. Illogical story jumps or character motivations will make me frown. And we don't want that! No, not at all."

"I will try and reward creativity, especially clever use or interpretation of the ingredients. I also appreciate options for the players and the adventure. Sometimes a train ride can be just as fun, but having multiple solutions or approaches to a problem just tickles my fancy."

"Now let's all sit back and enjoy ourselves! This is Iron DM! The best time of the year at RPG Crossing!"
hippo has returned! (October 2019)
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