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Old Mar 12th, 2023, 01:53 PM
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Iron DM - What Is it? (Start Here + FAQ)


It shall begin ... September 2023




The tradition continues ...
The new traditions shall begin ...
The 2023 event beckons you!

Iron DM is an annual celebration of the elusive blend of dedication, knowledge, creativity and chutzpah required to present and execute an unforgettable tabletop role playing game adventure. It is an event to gather and honor the dungeon masters, game masters, judges, referees, and whatever other names are worn by those who give their time to make games happen.

Since its first manifestation on this site in 2007, Iron DM has been a contest with one participant taking the "Iron DM" crown and holding the title until the next annual competition. The event continues as a competition-style format, but the goal of Iron DM extends to inspiring, supporting, and building the community of DM-players on this site and throughout the gaming community.

Much like Iron Chef challenges contestants to create fancy recipes out of random ingredients, this competition challenges you to craft enthralling items, encounters, adventures, and perhaps even a setting, using unique ingredient lists. Imagine writing epic adventures that captivate and enthrall, using only a wooden rabbit, an upside-down prince, a lavender mist, and a wrong turn.

The event welcomes submissions from all game systems and formats. Indeed, choosing the right system and being able to balance the pros and cons of using a familiar system as opposed to using a more obscure system is part of the contest strategy itself.

Like our gaming community, the flavor and tone of Iron DM changes over the years. It responds to community-wide trends and groundbreaking innovations from within the contest. Please consider joining this year's event to help us grow the community and perhaps even raise the bar and define the standards for next year's gathering.

Last edited by savoylen; Sep 1st, 2023 at 11:50 PM.
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Old Mar 12th, 2023, 02:30 PM
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List of Iron DMs

Iron DM Year Winning System Link to Winning Entry Runner-Up Link to Runner-Up Final Entry
RoBi 2007 D&D 3.5 Faces Agwolf The Star of Chaos
pfooti 2008 D&D 3.5 The City Eternal Caveman Desolation Denied
Malikane 2009 D&D 3.5 Rathyrian Black withdraw none
idilippy 2010 D&D 3.5 Forest of Madness Moth One Quiet Night
Melchior 2011 D&D 3.5 A Hippocratic Peace Illya A Cure for All Ills
Toba 2012 D&D 3.5 Sorrow in the Shadow of Scorn Melchior To Conquer Death
Bade 2013 D&D 3.5 Seasons of Rage Aeternis The War's Child
Ion2Atom 2014 D&D 3.5 A Dish Best Served Dead Hippo A Flickering Beacon
moozuba 2015 Pathfinder Heart of Darkness Rolzup Those Who Shape
Inem 2016 Pathfinder Frozen in Time Rolzup A Few Impossible Things
Inem 2017 Pathfinder The Child Emperor Khelbiros The Curse of Skagos
Inem 2018 Pathfinder Soul Surgery Unko Talok Hardened Hearts
Unko Talok 2019 Pathfinder The Old Feud Drager Lover's Quarrel
Spoonybard 2020 D&D 5e The End at the Beginning Thaco Dan's Labyrinth
Thaco 2021 D&D 5e The Candymaker LostCheerio The Sunrise Pact
bananabadger 2022 FATE Core The Jade Dragon Auron3991 History Repeats
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Last edited by savoylen; Apr 30th, 2023 at 09:32 PM.
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Old Mar 14th, 2023, 11:41 PM
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2023 Frequently Asked Questions

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0. What do I win if I take the title of Iron DM?
First, you get the pride that comes with doing something that was very hard with the odds stacked against you. With the bragging rights, you will receive the respect of your peers (some RPGxp more than likely), a shinny new badge for your name, and a code you can use to receive the Iron DM plaque with your forum name and Wall Chart of the competition lasered on the back to hang on your gaming room wall! (Gaming room not included).


1. Why change up the format after 17 seasons?
After listening to all the comments, feedback and our experience with Iron DM in the past, we wanted to double (maybe even triple) down on one big theme we heard over, and over, and over. Iron DM is one of the best places to grow as a Game Master (DM, referee, Story Teller, what-ever-your-game-calls-it) in our community. This year, Judges consider themselves as "mentors" more than anything else - giving you feedback, techniques and tips to make your next round even stronger regardless that last outcome - win, lose, or draw.

2. What is a Swiss-Sys Tournament?
This is where 'google' is your friend. This style pairs you 'head to head' with other players, generally around your own experience and background level. As you play, your IDM experience rating changes with each game and your total score at the end of the 4 rounds determines who is invited to the final pairings. NO ONE is eliminated due to losing a match up in the first 4 rounds of play. Another way to think of this is that, you're going to get 4 rounds of mentoring and practice in 2023 Iron DM. Round 5 is limited to the top scoring DMs and will be "by invitation" by the Chair.

3. How do you decide who gets paired (faced off with) whom?
The short answer is the same as all other years, The Chair sets up all pairings and determines whom plays against whom.
The longer answer is, The Chair is using the same pairing software he's used in MANY other Swiss-style tournaments. Using a starting seed roughly based on your time and experience on this site as indicated by your RPXP and other site-wide competition titles, you'll be placed in rooms of roughly 4 pairings (8 players) and three mentors/judges. Each room has its own set of ingredients which will change, round to round.

4. How are you seeding the first round of pairings? or
4. How are the Iron DM (IGM) Ratings set?

Generally speaking, very new members of the site will be set with an score near 400. RPGCrossing members that have RPGCrossing in the 10s of thousand, will be brought down to the range of us mere mortals... around 2000 or a tad higher if they have won this event or others very much like it in the past (or even multiple times). This is FOR FUN and for seeding the initial round this year ONLY so don't read too much into the number itself. After the tournament is over, the computer will adjust your ratings based on your games played this year. We'll use this number to seed the event next year if we decide to use this format again.

5. What is the difference between forfeiting a game and a withdrawal?
You forfeit a game in the cases of not following the posting the guidelines, editing after the timeframe has closed, etc. The game will be scored a 'loss' and you will earn no points that round.
Withdrawing from the tournament means you not only forfeit the game that round but you are taken out of the tournament with no chance of playing any further. If person doesn't post in a round without getting a bye in advance (see below) - this usually means that the player simply hasn't posted - without warning. In these case, they will be considered withdrawn by the Chair.

DO US ALL A FAVOR and if you decide to withdraw from the tournament - tell one of the hosts so they can make sure everyone else continues to have a good time and can be paired with someone who is actually going to play!

6. What is a bye? or
6. Can I get a bye? or
6. What happens if I have to miss around?

We get it, life is busy and things can come up. If you find that despite your best efforts that you can not participate in one of the rounds BUT you'd still like to continue in the future round (is only applies to rounds 1 thru 4), contact the Chair for a bye BEFORE that rounds starts. You can receive a planned zero-point bye for that round and NOT be withdrawn from the tournament.

In the case that you have been ASKED to take a bye for a round (perhaps you can't be paired for a head-to-head due to your room having an odd number of players), then you will be given a 1-point bye. This will only happen once and usually to newer players. Higher ranked players who ask to take a bye in round 1, will be given a 1/2-point bye. Players who have been asked to take a bye in a round STILL HAVE TO POST that round in order not to be withdrawn and could be paired with someone in their room if there is a withdrawal in another pairing. (OK, I know this rarely happens, but just in case I wanted to get this all out so you all don't think we just make these things up )

7. Why did I lose my round?
Go back up and read BananaBadger's "Meet The Judges" entry, "7 tips." Go ahead follow the link and read them and then come back here and keep reading.
Welcome back, (seriously, follow the link and read those 7 tips) - now go back again and camp out, especially tip number 6. Though any of those tips could have been the reason, it does come down to number 6 - the judges preference.

Last edited by bananabadger; Sep 10th, 2023 at 11:36 PM.
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