Contest rules may vary from competition to competition. At the beginning of each competition, any special rules for that contest will be detailed. Failure to abide by these rules may result in disqualification. In addition, the following rules are in effect for all Expert DM Competitions:
- Code of Conduct. All entries must comply with the forum's Code of Conduct.
- Contest Duration. Contests usually run for two weeks, beginning with the post announcing the competition. The Coordinator may extend the duration of the contest at his discretion after consulting the other judges for that competition. However, such extensions should be done very rarely.
- Edits Made at Entrants' Own Risk. A judge may download your entry any time after it is submitted. So any edits you make might not be considered by a judge. For this reason, you should submit your entry in as complete a form as possible. Use the preview function liberally.
- Multiple Entries Prohibited. You may submit only one entry during the period in which entries may be submitted. Submitting multiple entries disqualifies all entries. Additional entries may be submitted after the competition closes, but will not be judged.
- Multi-Post Entries Prohibited. Your entry must be contained within a single post. The judges must ignore any subsequent posts.
- Outside Materials Prohibited. Your entry may not include material hosted on a website other than wizards.com and community.wizards.com. Images from your profile gallery may be used. The judges must ignore material hosted on other websites.
- Plagiarism and Peer Reviewing Prohibited. Your entry must be your original and exclusive work. Entries that copy another's work or that have been posted for review prior to the close of the competition will be disqualified.
- Commentary. After the competition closes, each judge may but need not post commentary on the entries. An applicant who does not wish to have commentary on their entry posted should mention this in the entry.
- Coordinator. The XDMCs shall be coordinated by wrecan, or by a Deputy Coordinator selected by wrecan from among the eligible judges.
- Criteria. Each of the judges will review and rate each entry on its Creativity, Usability, Themes, and Clarity, as set forth below. Each judge may reward one entry in each competition with a single bonus point, for entries judged especially impressive or noteworthy. The scores in each category will be averaged together, with bonus points added on after averaging, from which a final score is calculated. Scores are final and unalterable once they have been submitted to the Coordinator.
- Number. There must be at least four eligible entries in order to declare a winner and at least five entries to award (virtual) gold, silver and bronze medals.
- Privacy. At no time will a judge relate any entry’s exact scores. The Coordinator may release all the scores for an entry without identifying which judge gave each score.
- Qualification. An individual may judge an Expert Dungeon Master Competition who has, in one of the ten most recent Expert Dungeon Master Competitions, either (i) served as a judge (ii) won a gold medal, or (iii) won a second or later medal of any denomination.
Creativity (15 points)
- Creativity measures the originality of a particular submission or how well it takes an existing idea and converts it into game terms.
Some factors judges consider when assessing an entry's Creativity:
- Has the concept been previously seen in popular culture or in a published gaming product?
- Does the entry provide a new twist to or thoughtful parody of a common trope?
- Will the entry be fun to both players and Dungeon Masters if included in an established campaign?
Usability (15 points)
- Usability measures the effort a Dungeon Master would need to make to include the entry in a campaign. For purposes of this contest, it should be assumed the Dungeon Master has the Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide and Monster Manual, and subscribes to the D&D Insider (and all rules available thereunder), but has no other materials available.
Some factors judges consider when assessing an entry's Usability:
- Is the entry compliant with the rules of the 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons?
- Is the entry properly balanced for a party of an appropriate level?
- Is the entry limited to a specific campaign setting?
- Is the entry limited to a specific party composition (race, class, equipment, powers, level, etc.)
- Is the entry specific to an unusual environment or plane?
- Does the entry require significant backstory that might be incompatible with a given Dungeon Master's established campaign?
Themes (10 points)
- Themes measures the entry's consistency with the theme of the competition as well as the inclusion of the requisite number of optional elements. Attempting to include more than the specified number of thematic elements will not necessarily result in a higher score, so it is better to include the minimum number elements very well than many loosely.
Some factors judges consider when assessing an entry's Themes:
- Are all the required elements present? (If not, the entry will receive a zero in Themes.)
- Does the element feel forced into the entry simply to achieve the requisite number of elements?
- Is the element's inclusion properly explained?
- Are sufficient optional elements present?
Clarity (10 points)
- Clarity measures the presentation of entry.
Some factors judges consider when assessing an entry's Clarity:
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- Is the entry presented in a logical order?
- Are statistic blocks properly and logically formatted?
- Has the entry listed the optional elements that it seeks to meet?
- If the entry relies on an obscure rule, is it identified (including page references) so novice Dungeon Masters won't inadvertently omit it?
- If the entry includes material not found on the Digital Initiative, does the entry provide sufficient explanatory text to allow the Dungeon Master to include it in a campaign without reference to the outside material?
- If an entry presents a new rule, is it described such that readers understand how to incorporate it with existing rules?
- Is the entry unnecessarily verbose or use run-on sentences?
- Does the entry use unusual fonts or colors in such a way as to distract the reader from the text?
- Does the entry make frequent grammatical and spelling errors? (Either American or English spelling conventions may be used)
- Does the entry make use of formatting that might not read properly if downloaded, such as sblocks?