Trial By Iron

I'm planning on going to Total Confusion this Saturday for the Iron GM competition. If you can make it to Mansfield, MA for 10AM and want to play/judge, I hear there are plenty of player slots open.

The competition seems straightforward. You show up, the organizers give you three secret ingredients that you need to use in your adventure, then you've got an hour to prep with the d20 3.5 SRD while your players roll up characters and you're off to the races. Simple. The ingredients in Las Vegas were Mohrg, Mineshaft, and Misunderstood Genius. I can work with that and bring a kickass game to the table.

Why do I want to do this? Bragging rights? $1000 prize money and a free trip to GenCon for the winner? Yes and yes. I'd been toying with competing, but the prize money pushed me over the edge. I can get paid for doing something I love to do? Sign me up for hours and hours of that!

I think my biggest motivation for wanting to do a competition has two sides. First, to blow the dust off all those skills I've been neglecting for "real life" over the past few years. Second, to prove to myself that I've still got the chops. I've had other priorities lately, and I want to get back into gaming. What better way to jump back in than going whole hog with a competition like this?

It makes me a little nervous that it's a con game, so you have no idea who you'll get at the table. And they're the ones filling out the score cards. I've done this once before, way back when the SFS had a gaming weekend in the lower wedge. It makes me nervous that I'll stand shoulder to shoulder with 9 other GMs who are just as good that all want to win the title of Iron GM.

But my biggest competition is myself. I need to tap into the flow, to get into the zone, to work the table and let the players tell me what they want to do without them realizing that they're driving the game. I need to listen. I need to not let the action lag. I need to let the players make game-changing decisions. I need to stay flexible. I need to be present with every mental faculty I can find.

This will be an uphill forced march through heart-achingly beautiful country. This will be a challenge to keep up with players 10 or 20 years younger than I am. This will be a mind-numbing blast of a good time. I can't wait.

I can do this. I can take random ideas and craft them into a game that's fun for everyone at the table. I can take a pool of players and forge them into a gaming group in one session. I can make memories that people will jealously hoard for years. I can push the needle on the fun dial up to 11. I can provide a great game to random gamers at the drop of a hat.

I am a GM. This is what I do.

I can win this thing. I can compete in the world championship at GenCon. And I bet I can win that too.

I'll probably be tweeting about it on Saturday, so if you want to keep up with me on Twitter, follow @twwombat.

Wish me luck.


  1. Luck not necessary. The muse will flow through you and the game will be glorious.

    Very eager to hear how it goes!

  2. I appreciate the vote of confidence. And I'm sure there will be a little something posted here once I've digested the experience.


  3. I'm all fired up, now. Can't wait to meet you!

  4. Ed,

    This is what Iron GM is all about, ennit?

    Looking forward to meeting you on Saturday.


  5. Loved having your help, dude. I hope you had a great time.

  6. Ed: My pleasure. My theatrical training makes me inclined to shut up and help out. If you need a minion for future events in New England, give me a shout.

    I'll have a post mortem for Iron GM posted in the next few days. I also want to pick your brain if you've got the time - I'll drop you an email.