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Old Mar 5th, 2023, 10:28 PM
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Meet The Judges


This thread is for each of the hosts and judges for this year's competition to introduce themselves as well as to share a little about what they think the ideal submission would look like. All contestants are recommended to read this thread carefully, and note what the judges are looking for, and how they will score you. As per the last few years, there are 'judging guidelines' to help make the judgments not too surprising, create more consistency between them, and help carry some of the load for those judging!

 


 


 
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Last edited by savoylen; May 16th, 2023 at 02:04 AM.
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Old Mar 5th, 2023, 10:50 PM
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Savoy here, at your service as one of your hosts!

I'm really looking forward to seeing what you bring to the table in this year's competition. I'll be serving as the chairman this year which is mostly about answering questions, arranging the brackets, tracking the results from round to round, judge wrangling and, doing whatever bananabadger and Ildrahil ask.

Firstly, I appreciate the commitment and hard work that goes into competing in the Iron DM. Please have a sense of humor and humbleness when receiving feedback from us. You're signing up for criticism and praise but its that first one that gets people sometimes. In this year's tournament format, we are all reading A LOT of games. I've asked the judges to score each pairing and using the "win, loss, draw" format and to provide feedback only on the criteria that had the biggest impact on their decision.

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As a judge we want to give guidance on what will help hone and deepen your already strong DM skills and sometimes, we have to dig deep to find something that might help. Regardless, these are just our opinions and always meant to be constructive. Don't take it as a personal hurt or attack.

That isn't why we do this.

My best 'pro-tip' for you is not to get too hung up on the numbers game but to really lean into the judge's comments. There is some real gold in there and if you really want grow in your skills the Iron DM arena, that is exactly what you'll do. Truly, we're here to build you up - both when you advance and when you don't.


A little about myself:
  • I'm a teacher, Engineer and woodworker artist in RL - so I really get into both the details (the pieces must fit together very well) and love innovation. If its not a new take on an old trope, you might want to keep thinking.
  • Be crystal clear on the mechanics. If I have to take more than a few notes on how the mechanics work, you haven't been clear enough.
  • I run OTU & MgT2 Traveller, FATE, all versions of DnD and have experience with a large variety of popular "indie" RPGs. I appreciate the effort that it takes to pick game mechanics that go with the spirit of your work.

- Savoy
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Iron DM 2023 is here - Check it out!!
GM of: Dark*Matter: The Hoffmann Institute (2007 HOF),
Traveller: The Third Imperium, Strixhaven: Academy for the Gifted & Game of Thrones: House Ascending
New here? Try a New Player Solo Game for 13th age, CoC, DnD, FATE, Pathfinder, Traveller.

Last edited by savoylen; Mar 6th, 2023 at 12:56 AM.
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Old Mar 5th, 2023, 11:48 PM
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Welcome to Iron DM 2023!

I am here to serve as Savoylen's assistant and to fill in as a judge when needed.

Also, and more importantly, I am here as your fan.

It takes a lot of time and effort to submit these entries. I understand and respect that. I promise to work to make this a great experience for the time you will put into the event.

I'm delighted that this year features innovations such as four short opening rounds of no-elimination play. These are changes inspired by member comments and built on respect and admiration for the formula that has been perfected over the years.

So, let’s go forth—kind, bold, and brilliant!

And ... if you are in it to win it (and why not?), here are my Top 7 BananaBadger Tips.
 


Now get out there! Whip those ingredients into shape! Oh yeah, and sign my jersey with your name and numner on it, will ya? I'm your fan!
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Last edited by bananabadger; Nov 5th, 2023 at 01:08 AM.
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Old Mar 27th, 2023, 11:39 AM
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Hi there! I'm so happy to be here, judging IronDM 2023. I have gotten so much entertainment and joy out of IronDM in years past, both spectating and participating, so I'm honored to be invited to put my oar in and help make it go. It's such a unique and interesting writing challenge. If you're hesitant to participate, I urge you to give it a chance! Your judges are here to support you, and while we're scoring you we're also rooting for you and looking forward to reading your work. IronDM can be a huge growth opportunity as a writer and gamer. The ideas you kick around here could be the seed of a future epic adventure, and we are here to help you polish those ideas.

I'm a writer, a literature teacher, a mom of 2, and a long-time PC gamer from the days of original Starcraft and Tomb Raider. I also play the guitar and violin in a folk band, coach a sword dance team, and love to spin, dye, and knit wool. While I have been playing RPGs since middle school, I was a "forever DM" since college, until I came here to RPGX. The people I've met here and the experiences I've had -- wow, what an awesome part of my life, both during the pandemic when I started, and still now as "real life" resumes. One of the most intense experiences on RPGX for me was IronDM 2021, where I came in second.

I made two big mistakes in the final round, which I will share with you, to show you what to avoid.

Big Mistake #1: I came in with a preconceived idea for a setting.
What you should do: Let the ingredients tell you what the game will be. Get your list, think about it for a couple days, let the elements emerge: a cool setting, some interesting NPCs and a villain, and a challenge for your PCs to solve. In my final round, I had this really great idea that I'd never used in a story or game, and I was determined to incorporate it. Bad decision. It sucked up a lot of my word count, and had nothing to do with the ingredients given. I kind of knew it was a mistake at the time, but like a belligerent fool, I insisted. In hindsight, I can see how much better my adventure would have been if I'd come in with a blank slate. Don't let this regret happen to you!
Big Mistake #2: I chickened out on using "other" game systems.
What you should do: Choose the game system that best suits your story. There are a bazillion RPGs out there, each with different quirks, mechanics, and opportunities. In the first three rounds, I picked a niche game, a really old game, and a PbtA game, but when it came to the finals I had a crisis of confidence and reverted to D&D5e. I came so close to using Dungeon World that I had a draft written in that system, but I got worried about my handle on mechanics, and faltered. Don't set yourself up for this regret -- be bold and embrace the variety! As a judge, i don't mind learning about a new (or old!) system that I don't already know.
Okay, a bit more advice:
  • Steal formatting from previous years' entries.
  • Find a buddy to proofread for you and help you edit for clarity.
  • Take a couple days to think before focusing on an idea.
  • Make great characters to populate your adventure.
  • But make sure the PCs are the stars!

Have fun! I hope to see you in the stadium.
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  #5  
Old Apr 5th, 2023, 10:30 AM
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I'm back for another year of Iron GM, and I'm excited to have once again been invited to be a judge, for... an 11th time now. Wow, time flies.

For those of you not already familiar with me from my previous experiences: I've been a published author for close to a decade now, with my work including 3rd edition, Pathfinder, and 5th edition. I've gone through self publishing, and my name is the lead author for multiple 3rd party adventure paths. I'm also a father of two, and although I have a degree in video game design, my day job is in traditional publishing. While I've only published a few dozen pages this last year - I have a lot of experience in what makes a good story, a good adventure, and good structure.

I've been actively gaming since late 2nd edition, and have tried everything I can pull a group together for: from the mainstream 3e, 4e, 5e, oneDnD, and Pathfidner (my personal favorite), to less popular games like GURPS, WOD, and Powered By Apocolypse, to some relatively obscure systems like: Slayers, Mouseguard, Beast Hunters, Kids on Bikes, and Gardens of Ynn. And this only counts the games I've actually had a chance to play - I've read plenty more.

I literally wrote the book on what an Iron GM judge should score on, but personally my biggest recommendation is that you take care that your work is clear and cohesive. Keep your work organized and think the whole thing out from one end to another to ensure that it's realistic. Remember that although judges will be reading it, you should be pretending that it might actually be used by a GM - and while it's okay to confuse or surprise players sometimes, it's always a bad idea to confuse or surprise the GM who is using your work. One of my biggest pet peeves is when the adventure presents the only path forward something that I think a party of adventurers is unlikely to do.

Last edited by savoylen; May 13th, 2023 at 06:40 PM.
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Old May 31st, 2023, 12:19 AM
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Formatting (and back again) for the name change, but the content still applies.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bhelogan View Post
I'm going to do something new this year, but first, my obligatory quote:

 

Now, for the new part. What I list above is just the basics of a decent entry, but I feel like digging deeper into what makes a great entry would be useful. I've looked over and considered the type of feedback that I have given in years past, and I think there are a few common elements there that take a submission beyond just being good to being great. I am going to try and consolidate all of that here, so without further ado:

Keys to winning Iron DM according to Bhelogan
  1. Formatting - This is a chance to show us your BB Code-fu. Formatting of your entry should make it pleasing to the eye, and make it easy to follow. Formatting that is either ugly or detracts from the flow or organization (despite being extra pretty) will hurt your entry. Most Judges (but not all, we have some oddballs out there) are going to use Drake (no background) as their theme. So, when in doubt, double-check how your formatting looks with that theme.
  2. Ingredients - A perfect ingredient usage is one where the ingredient is key and central to the plot, easy to spot out, but still feels organic to the entry. It needs to be used in such a way that it cannot have a substitute, and still be the same adventure. If it feels like it was added ad-hock just to be included, or if it could be replaced with just about anything else and not impact the story, then you will not get full marks for its usage. Sounds difficult? It is, but that is what separates a decent entry from an amazing one. I appreciate a table at the end of your entry stating what the ingredients were, and how they were used. Don't make me hunt through your entry five times trying to figure out if something is there. Ingredients can be used literally or figuratively. A mixture of both can be a lot of fun.
  3. Word Count - Nothing will kill an entry faster than going over your word count. Being significantly under though is almost as bad. Use ALL of your words, and make them count. If you try to do too much with your story, segments will get thinned out, often putting them in a state where your entry would be better without them. If you come significantly under your word count, it may be better to flesh out something you already have, than to try and add something extra to the entry.
  4. Use Available Resources - This kind of ties into word count, but, if you can point to a specific resource for a stat block or monster (e.g. Frostmare - Monster Manual page 245, swap fire resistance and damage to cold resistance and damage), you will save a significant amount of word count vs. trying to build and include a whole new stat block for the creature. Using bolt text to point to an official printed reference is a common practice in printed D&D 5E modules, and is acceptable in Iron DM.
  5. Second Opinions - Where possible, try to get someone else to read over your entry before you post it. Not one of the judges, or competitors, but someone you trust to give you an honest opinion. If they say everything looks great and you are ready to go, fire them and find someone else. You want them to spot things that you don't see. Simple spelling mistakes, clumsy sentences, flow, and missing information, are all things that a second pair of eyes can spot that you may miss. I am no English major myself. If I am spotting major spelling and grammar problems, then there are some serious issues in your entry.

And, don't forget the Pro Tip: To win, you must score more points than your opponent!
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Last edited by Bhelogan; Sep 2nd, 2023 at 01:33 PM.
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Old Jun 1st, 2023, 06:02 PM
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HI, I am Fillyjonk, and I’m really excited to see what you come up with. I’ve been spectating Iron DM since I joined the site, and I am delighted to have an active part this go-round. I love the creativity I have seen on display in years past.

I’m a novelist, a mom, a scuba diver, and a lifelong avid gamer (not in that order) who has taught writing seminars and workshops all over the country. Homebrew/original one shots and scenarios are my favorite thing. In the last two years, I have playtested two original one shots; You can see one I wrote, Battle of the Bards, in the Hall of Fame Games forum, and The Banshee Bride, a collaboration with lostcheerio, is in the Finished Games forum. My long-running Ghosts of Saltmarsh campaign is so fraught with homebrew that in eight episodic chapters, only 1.5 have actually born a resemblance to any content in the module; I love writing adventures, collaborating on adventures, reading original adventures, talking about original adventures, so I will be reading your work with a lot of joy and interest.

As a judge, my first job is to help you recognize your strengths as a writer/game creator. My second is to provide constructive criticism so you can play to those strengths and hopefully move forward in the contest. I’m a sucker for plot twists, clever encounters, and a creative use of the elements.
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Last edited by Fillyjonk; Jun 2nd, 2023 at 12:23 AM.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2023, 10:42 PM
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Greetings!

Can you feel the excitement in the air? Ah, the creativity to come! The weaving of stories and systems together will be absolutely wonderful and fun. If you are partaking in this journey of IronDM there will be much to explore with your writing and imagination tempered by logic and sensible rules. Perhaps you will join to polish your skills or to simply share your vision. Perhaps you are here to test your wits and gain guidance by those offering their time, sharing their joy for gaming.

When I arrived at college in the mid-80's, my first goal was to find a D&D group . Before I was out of college, I was dragged to my first LARP, terrified it would be over the edge. I've co-written LARPs, rules, worlds, mythologies, and a Vodou magic system. Way too many years were spent playing in the World of Darkness, then Buffy the Vampire Slayer, All Flesh Must Be Eaten, more WoD, and back to D&D with 5e. Finally. Phew. Back into the light! What I'll be focused on the most, more than likely, is the Player's Perspective and Storytelling. How do you express your excitement and pleasure with writing your game, using the ingredients? What tone is set? Is there cleverness or humor in what you write or is the game all business from square one? Will there be particular attention paid to the environment? How will the players feel heard and really know they are the ones who are to shine in the game? I cannot wait to find out!

I look forward to reading what you all prepare and present, and encourage current and future DM's, GM's, Storytellers to join this difficult but worthy challenge. Thank you for inviting me!

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Old Jun 8th, 2023, 12:40 AM
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Enter Dragoon
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Oh hello, I'm AnotherDragoon and I can't wait to be a part of Iron GM. I've always read along and marveled at the talents displayed here so when offered a spot at the Judge's table, I couldn't refuse. As a player making the switch to the other side of the screen I will be your biggest fan so, please don't take any judgments personally only one of my favorites can win.

I have only been playing for around three years. Never could convince any friends to play and was somehow oblivious to play by post, but I've been reading every rule book I could get my hands on since the mid-Nineties. I'm a dad of two young children and two dogs, who knows his way around a kitchen and enjoys reading, music, plants, and PC gaming when I can scrape out sometime. I love all the creativity we get to put into this hobby together.

So, how to impress Ol' Goonie? It's not all that hard, honestly. First, formatting matters. As plenty of chefs have told me, you eat with your eyes first. That, of course, translates to: Presentation is everything. Formatting matters. You can write up the most innovative and amazing story ever but, if it's a struggle to read or hurts the eyes it's just not going to be as appealing as something plated a little cleaner.

Next, show me something I haven't seen before. That's the simplest and quickest way to get my attention. I love stories and my favorite one is the one I haven't heard yet. Anyway, don't forget to have fun. That's what this is all about, a celebration of the talented folks that make the games we play possible!
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  #10  
Old Oct 8th, 2023, 01:01 AM
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Hi, Everyone. I just recently joined the judging team as a last minute volunteer and Iím glad to be with you! Iíve competed in the Iron DM stadium the past two years and loved it. Itís such a great community event and this year's organizers have done another amazing job.

Iíve been gaming since the 90ís and found PbP five years ago. Itís such a fun way to roleplay and the RPG Crossing community is amazing, especially with events like this. I canít wait to read through everyoneís entries! As far as my judging tendencies, Iíll be following the judgment criteria provided by the organizers very closely with an eye toward entries GMs can run easily and players will enjoy playing. Good luck everyone!
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