Iron GM 2016!

First Prize - $250
Second Prize - $150
Third Prize - $100

Are you a new LARP author who wants a push to try your hand at writing a game? A seasoned author looking for a challenge? Or maybe an insomniac who comes up with your best crazy ideas late at night? If you answered "yes" to any of these, you might be interested in Intercon's Iron GM competition!

This year, six GM teams will write a two-hour game based on three secret ingredients and one secret prop in 24 hours! Previous Iron GM competitions had such ingredients as "The Illuminati, The Kaballah, and Enhanced Humans" and "drugs, fascism, and children's music." The themes will not be revealed until the 24 hours start.

The goal is to have a complete game that can be run by any other GM team without major revisions. The games should be 2 hours long and written for 12 people. The 24-hour game-writing portion will occur between January 30 and 31, 2016. The finished games will be played by Intercon attendees on Sunday morning. The games will be judged on LARP craft, playability, enjoyability, and integration of the themes. The winning GM team receives a fabulous cash prize (and bragging rights)! (See more detailed rules below.)

If you don't feel like writing, or value your sleep, you can still participate. Sign up to play in the games and help decide which team will win the cash prize! No one knows yet what the games will be like, but we do know they'll be fun!

So come join us: get a team together to write, or sign up to play and vote. See below for team registration.

- Marsha Gershon
  Iron GM 2016 Chairman

Contact me with any questions at

Team registration is now OPEN!

Please, review the Rules below before signing up.

Contest Rules

The contest and adherence to the rules below are overseen by the Chairman. Marsha Gershon will serve as Chairman for the 2016 Iron GM contest, and all inquiries and comments can be addressed to her at The Chairman will make herself available by phone during the writing process and at the Con.


Team registration for Iron GM 2016 is open until all 6 game slots are filled, whichever comes first.

The following people are not eligible to participate in the contest as contestants (although they may play the games): NEIL board members or their immediate families, NEIL board advisors or their immediate families, the Chairman or her immediate family.

Players may register at any point after general game registration opens.


Teams may consist of between 2 and 5 people. Individuals may enter the contest, but given the 24 hour limit on writing, doing so places that contestant at a distinct disadvantage, and we discourage this.

Teams are asked to provide a team name and a point person (strictly for contact purposes). We also ask for the names of the members of each team and their e-mail addresses to make sure everyone has access to the same information at the same time.


No writing may be done before 2:00 PM Eastern Time on January 30, 2016 which marks the start of the Writing Phase. Participants may be tempted to develop parts of the game or its structure prior to the official Writing Phase, and though we have no means of stopping this, we find that this approach undermines the spirit of the contest and can lead to a lack of cohesiveness in the resulting game.

At 2:00 PM Eastern Time on January 30, 2016, the Chairman will email the three secret ingredients to all the teams, and will subsequently be available online or by phone to answer any questions they may have.

The three ingredients will be comprised of a Genre, a Theme, and an Element (ex. High Fantasy, Betrayal, and The Philosopher’s Stone). All three ingredients must be used in the game. Feel free to interpret the ingredients in your own way.

Each team will also be provided with a prop, which too will remain secret until the Writing Phase, and must be used in the game. This prop can be used in any way, literally or otherwise, for plot, set, or mechanics.

Each team must write a game that can be run in two hours, and can be played by as few as 5 and as many as 12 (and any number in between). A "game" must contain at least the following components (plus anything else the authors deem necessary). These must be provided in MSWord (.doc/.docx) or Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format, and be printed on standard 8.5"x11" paper:

These components should make it possible for a team of GMs unfamiliar with the game to download it and run it without any additional development or writing.

The game must comply with all Intercon GM Policies, listed on this page. In addition, the game must be appropriate for all players, regardless of age or physical ability.

All written game materials must be in the Chairman's email inbox by 2:00 PM Eastern Time on January 31, 2016. Late submissions will be docked five points per hour or partial hour that they are late. No writing may be done after 2:00 PM Eastern Time on January 31, 2016.


Games will be run at Intercon, on Sunday Morning.

Games must run for two hours, including any pregame player prep and post-game wrap-up. GMs will be given some extra time during the con to set up/tear down their games, but they will only have access to the players for two hours.

GMs will not have access to their player list before game. All casting must be done at game-start. The game can be run by any GM team as long as it involves at least one member of a registered competing team and no members of another team or anyone not eligible to participate in the contest

Game slots will be assigned at random; GMs must be prepared to run their game in any of the scheduled slots. GMs will be notified of which slot they are in as early as possible, so that they can sign up for games in the other slot if they so desire, but they should refrain from sharing this information with potential players. GMs should NOT sign up for any other Iron GM game.


Before the convention, the teams will follow the printing instructions to print, stuff and prepare their game. If this is a problem for your team, please contact the contest organizer and arrangements can be made.

The character sheets and bluesheets and any other printing to be done on paper should be printed on regular weight (20lb) paper only. This paper may be any color you wish. The printing itself, however, must be all in black. For example, you may have blue sheets be on blue paper and character sheets be on yellow, but the actual words on the page must all be black. Images may be used on printed material, but they must either be of your own design or free-use images (please contact us if you have questions or concerns about this). Stipulations on color likewise apply to printing on index cards.

The following materials will be allowed at runtime, please include the list of materials in the printing instructions. (If requested by one week prior to the convention, the Chairman can provide any of the following list at the convention):

Authors may also elect to bring up to $25 worth of other items to game. If they do so, a list of items must be submitted along with the other game materials at the end of the Writing Period.

Game Space

The games will be taking place in the suites the hotel is making available to Intercon. The beds will be removed from the suites. The following furniture will be available to you:

The suites also have a built in dresser with a TV, a closet, a bathroom and a kitchenette. The TV may not be connected to any external device such as DVD players or laptops. You may not request any additional furniture for the suites. The keys to the suites will be available outside the suites themselves or, failing that, the ops desk. The Chairman will be available if there are problems. If you have any questions about the suites, please contact the contest organizer.


Games will be judged as follows:


The game materials (as submitted at the end of the Writing Phase) will be read by a blind panel, and evaluated on completeness, compliance with the contest rules, readiness for boxing, and writing.

At this stage the game materials should contain all the writing necessary for the game to be run by any group of GMs.

All components mentioned above should be present and complete.

Writing will be judged on basic grammar, spelling, and punctuation, not style. Please proofread your game materials before submitting.

Writing materials will also be judged on cohesiveness of the game.

For each of these categories, the game will be judged either "complete" or "incomplete," with points awarded for each "complete."


Players will be asked to fill out a questionnaire after the game in which they will rate the game on the usability and style of the written materials, on their experience of their characters, on the use of the secret ingredients, on runtime GMing quality, on the fit between plot and mechanics, and their overall enjoyment of the game. Please see the questionnaire form for exact questions.

The questionnaires will be included in the game packets given to the teams. It will be the responsibility of the teams to ensure that the questionnaires for their game are collected after being filled out and are dropped at the Ops desk before 1:30pm Sunday.

Scoring Procedures

The scoring procedures are TBA.

If any contestant plays in any other team's Iron GM game, the player and their team are then disqualified from the Iron GM Competition. They may still run their game.

The prizes will be awarded as follows: the team with the highest score will get $250, the team with the second highest score will get $150 and the team with the third highest score will get $100. The prize money will be given to the main entrant, who will be responsible for splitting it among the team.

With permission of the authors, games will be available to the public after the results of the contest are announced. Permission will not be solicited until after the results are announced; it is not a necessary condition to win.

Signing Up an Iron GM Team

We're working on getting the signup form available online! For now, please email the Iron GM Chair at