D&D tournaments were judged according to a system whereby each party was given points for accomplishing specific tasks and taking certain actions in a competition dungeon. [see this question]

I was curious about whether I could find scores from different events and compare them meaningfully. However, I wasn't sure if each competition scorecard had the same range of point values. Scores in some other competitions are built such that they can be compared (bowling scores are always between 0 - 300, for example), but if each dungeon had a different range of points I'm not sure I could compare them.

Do the scores for D&D tournament dungeons have the same range between competitions? Can they be compared?


In the early days of tournament play, no. Different adventures used individual scoring systems that did not compare well.

In the early days of D&D tournament play, individual modules had their own scoring systems which were much too different to allow a meaningful comparison of scores. If you look at the first two modules in the C (for Competition) series, this is apparent. C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (played at Origins '79) and C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness (played at Wintercon VII in 1979) were both published for the public with their original scoring systems intact. These scoring systems have some similarities, but the two systems are clearly not designed to create scores that would be comparable between the modules in a meaningful way. Both scoring systems award points for very specific achievements, like solving a puzzle, avoiding a trap, or defeating a monster; however, for C1, this represents the entirety of the scoring with a maximum score of around 345 plus the DM's subjective point bonus, for which no real guidance is given. By contrast, C2 has both a team and individual score. The maximum keyed score for teams is around 510, but that score was then added to the sum of treasure value divided by 1,000, which was then added to the sum of all individual scores (5 players) divided by 2, and then the number of turns elapsed was subtracted from the total. Keyed player scores max at 180, but then added the net total of hit point damage dealt minus hit points sustained (a significant disadvantage for fighters) and a subjective bonus of up to 20% of the point total.

TL;DR - A perfect team score in C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan at Origins 1979 would have equated to a rather mediocre score in C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness at the Wintercon tournament held the same year. And there would be no individual scores for C1 to which players of C2 could compare their individual scores.

The main reason the systems were so tied to the specific adventure is that they tried to be almost completely objective. If the player/party did this, +5 points; if they did that, -2 points. Sometimes they would add up gold piece value of treasure and hit points dealt and taken... both measures that could be radically different from adventure to adventure. The only non-objective measures were the occasional allowance for the DM to award points for good play.

The RPGA introduced a standardized scoring system for RPGs in 1983 that allowed for meaningful comparison of scores from different adventures and even game systems. It was subjective and required judges.

In Issue #10 and #11 of Polyhedron Newzine, the Role Playing Gamer's Association (RPGA) presented a new system for scoring tournament modules that would be used for all TSR role-playing games in RPGA-sanctioned tournaments. The system--described in detail in Polyhedron #11--applies to both teams and individuals and awards points in 8 categories that theoretically would work across different adventures. Each category was rated 1-10 by the judge and then multiplied by a weighting modifier. The categories and their modifiers were: Reaching Event Objective (x10), Reaching Secondary Objective (x4), Player/s Survived (x5), Role-Playing (x7), Teamwork (x8), Ingenuity (x3), Risks Taken (x2), and Rules Knowledge (x6). There was also a sheet for bonus points in the categories Treasure (x1), Power Abuse (x1.5), Determination (x5), and Fun (x2). You can see the details of this system on pages 19 and 20 of Polyhedron #11. This system was also used to rank players in the RPGA by totaling their all their scores for a point ranking system (an advantage for those who played multiple tournament events). Top ranked RPGA players were named, with their aggregate scores, in Polyhedron #10.

The system attempted the kind of universal rankings you are talking about, although it was not perfect. The Secondary Objective category might not apply in an adventure with no secondary objective, in which case that team/player would not have the opportunity to score as many points as a team/player that played an adventure with a secondary objective. That being said, most TSR modules with which I am familiar had something you could identify as a secondary objective.

Nevertheless, apart from this potential flaw, the categories easily translate across different adventures, and even gaming systems. A perfect score in any adventure, with bonus points, would be 545 points. Unlike earlier scoring systems, there were no points for any specific challenges within an adventure, so specific differences between adventures became moot. Therefore one team or player's performance in one module could be meaningfully compared to another team or player's performance in a very different module. You could even compare one team's result in a D&D adventure with another's in a Gamma World adventure.

The tradeoff for universality, of course was that this system is highly subjective, requiring impartial judges with hopefully very similar standards from event to event. Of course lots of worthy competitions rely on the subjective opinions of judges, but the clear cut days of X number of points for Y achievement in RPGs were over, at least for TSR games.

It's not clear from my research how long this system was in use. The RPGA was disbanded in 2014 and replaced by the D&D Adventurer's League. It is also important to note that it was applied only to TSR RPGs, so non-TSR games would have to continue using their own scoring systems, though it's possible other companies tried to standardize tournament scoring as well.


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