Iron GM 2019 - A LARP Writing Contest!


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


Iron GM is a game writing contest where teams of writers create a new 2 hour game over 24 hours for 5-12 players based on 3 themes / ingredients and one prop, which are revealed at the beginning of the writing time period.

GM teams write a two-hour game, scalable for 5-12 players, based on three secret ingredients and one secret prop in 24 hours. As an example, Intercon Q's challenge was a Genre of Parallel Universes, Theme of Hope / False Hope, the Element of trickster animals, and the Prop was a strand of green lights

The goal is to have a complete game that can be run by any other GM team without major revisions.

The 24-hour game-writing portion will occur in early February, 2019. The finished games will be played by Intercon attendees on Sunday morning.

The games are judged on LARP craft, playability, enjoyability, and the integration of the themes. The winning GM teams receive prizes and bragging rights. (See more detailed rules below.)

If you'd rather not write, you can still participate by playing the games at the convention. Signing up to play in the games helps decide which team will win the cash prize!

We don’t know what the games will be like yet, but we do know that the teams will have put a lot of creativity and effort into the finished product. We’re really excited every year to see what they come up with. So come join us: get a team together to write, or sign up to play.

See below for team registration.

This year, the Iron GM Coordinator are Tara Halwes and Kim Sward

Contact us with any questions at

Please, review the Rules below before signing up.

Contest Rules

The contest and adherence to the rules below are overseen by the Iron GM Coordinator. All inquiries and comments can be addressed to the Iron GM Coordinator at The Iron GM Coordinator will make themselves available by Google chat, email, and/or phone during the writing process and at the convention.


Team registration for Iron GM is open until all 6 game slots are filled or the writing period, 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 Iron GM Coordinator or their immediate family.

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

Signing Up an Iron GM Team

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


Writing Teams

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 single person teams at a disadvantage. Part of the fun of the writing is the collaboration process.

Teams are asked to provide a team name and a primary contact person. We also ask for the names of the members of each team and their e-mail addresses in case there is a communication break down.

Writing Process

No writing may be done before 8:00 PM Eastern Time on the first day of the contest, which marks the start of the Writing Phase.

At 8:00 PM Eastern Time on the day of the contest, the Iron GM Coordinator will email the secret ingredients to all the teams, and will subsequently be available online or by phone to answer any questions they may have.

The secret ingredients will be comprised of a Genre, a Theme, an Element, and a Prop. (i.e. High Fantasy, Inner Conflict, The Philosopher’s Stone, and a cooking timer) All of the secret ingredients should be used in the game, but writers should feel free to have fun with them and interpret them in their own way.

The 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 players (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:

  • 12 character sheets
  • Runtime instructions, including specifications for which characters should be cut to fit a cast of any size from 5 to 11
  • Any rulesheets or world background information (sometimes called blue sheets) needed for players to understand the game
  • Printing instructions including how many copies of each sheet is required (Does everyone get a rules sheet? A background sheet? How many copies of gm information needs to be printed?)
  • Envelope stuffing instructions (Which characters get which sheets? Are there paper props that go in with certain characters? What are they? Have you included those pre written in your paperwork?)
  • A plot reference book - This is a reference document used for information on the characters, settings, and other elements. It should outline briefly various plots, characters, and built-in gametime events, as well as instructions on running any mechanics. 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 Iron GM Coordinator's email inbox by 8:00 PM Eastern Time on the second day of the contest. Late submissions will still be accepted, but be penalized during scoring.


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. GMs should not sign up to play another team's game.


Before the convention, the teams should 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 Iron GM Coordinator can provide any of the following list at the convention):

  • Enough blank name badges for one each for all the players and GMs
  • 12 large envelopes
  • A reasonable number of index cards (contact the contest organizer with any questions about what is reasonable)
  • A reasonable number of letter-sized envelopes (contact the contest organizer with any questions about what is reasonable)
  • Two decks of playing cards
  • 12 six-sided dice
  • A box of pens
  • A sharpie
  • Mounting Putty (for mounting paper to the wall)
  • A pair of scissors

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 small function spaces. The following furniture will be available to you:

  • At least 20 chairs
  • At least two 5' round tables


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." Readers will also be allowed to pick one favorite game to award a small number of extra points to.


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.